Media Disruption Exacerbates Revolutionary Unrest: Evidence from Mubarak’s Quasi-Experiment

Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 16 Mar 2020

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Conventional wisdom suggests that lapses in media connectivity - for example, disruption of Internet and cell phone access - have a negative effect on political mobilization. I argue that on the contrary, sudden interruption of mass communication accelerates revolutionary mobilization and proliferates decentralized contention. Using a dynamic threshold model for participation in network collective action I demonstrate that full connectivity in a social network can hinder revolutionary action. I exploit a decision by Mubarak's regime to disrupt the Internet and mobile communication during the 2011 Egyptian uprising to provide an empirical proof for the hypothesis. A difference-in difference inference strategy reveals the impact of media disruption on the dispersion of the protests. The evidence is corroborated using historical, anecdotal, and statistical accounts.

Keywords: Revolution, Social Networks, Learning, Media Disruption, Political Violence, Cascade, Egyptian Uprising 2011, Mobilization

Suggested Citation

Mehrdad, Navid, Media Disruption Exacerbates Revolutionary Unrest: Evidence from Mubarak’s Quasi-Experiment (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1903351

Navid Mehrdad (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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