Online Media and Offline Empowerment in Democratic Transition: Linking Forms of Internet Use with Political Attitudes and Behaviors in Post-Rebellion Tunisia
33 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2012
Date Written: October 1, 2012
Social media are reputed to have played a crucial role in mobilizing citizens against autocratic governments in the MENA region. In Tunisia, digital activists successfully used social media to organize the popular protests that ousted President Ben Ali in January 2011. However, the phase of mobilizing protest to overthrow an established authority is different from constructing a political order to replace that authority. Hence the question arises in what ways social media can contribute to democratic transitions beyond popular rebellion? This paper focuses on the attitudinal factors that lie at the heart of cultural-behavioral approaches to democratization. A key element in the democratic consolidation of post-autocratic societies is the development of a participatory political culture which, among other factors, depends on citizens’ perceived political efficacy. Using data obtained from a web-survey among 610 Tunisian Internet users, we test the degree to which respondents’ political use of the Internet during the Tunisian uprising influenced their levels of internal political efficacy and whether this shift in attitudes is positively related to measurable changes in electoral participation from authoritarian to post-authoritarian rule.
Keywords: Social Media, Democratization, Political Efficacy, Electoral Behavior, Tunisia, Arab Spring
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