Information (Without) Revolution: Ethnography and the Study of New Media Enabled Change in the Middle East
29 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 5 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2010
With the democratization of information made possible by increasingly mobile and networked communications, political scientists have wondered if states around the world would experience waves of more participatory politics. Especially in authoritarian states, like those in the Muslim Middle East, such debates about the meaning of new media enabled agency have been lively. This paper looks at the role of ethnographic research in studying Internet enabled change in the region. It uses case studies of Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait to illustrate the following points: 1.) Ethnographic practices have much to contribute to the study of emergent Internet cultures in the Middle East. 2.) New media are supporting oppositional imaginations in the region with intensification observable over time. 3.) Even if regimes have not been overturned with new media tools, these technologies are transforming people’s lives and altering norms in the region. 4.) Since the Internet is increasingly a tool for promoting struggles for power in the region and abroad, political scientists are encouraged to pay more attention to the development and impact of new media politics.
Keywords: Internet, New Media, Politics, Revolution, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan
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