The Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Always Comes First
37 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2012 Last revised: 2 Apr 2014
Date Written: 2012
.The goal of this article is to place the role of the social media in collective action within a more general theoretical structure using the events of the Arab Spring as a case study. Three theoretical principles are put forth all of which center around the idea that one cannot understand the role of any media in a political conflict without first considering the political context in which they are operating. The first principle states that: “Political variables are likely to be more important in explaining the extensiveness of a popular uprising than the overall penetration of the social media in a particular country”. The second principle is referred to as the “principle of cumulative inequality”. It states that: “Citizens who most need the media are the ones who find it the most difficult to exploit them.” The third and final theoretical principle states that: “A significant increase in the use of the new media is much more likely to follow a significant amount of protest activity than to precede it.” The three principles are examined using political, media, and protest data from 22 Arab Countries. The findings provide strong support for the validity of the claims.
Keywords: New Media, Arab Spring, Collective Action, Political Violence, Media and Conflict
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