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Movements for Change

How Individuals, Social Media and Al Jazeera Are Changing Pakistan, Egypt and Tunisia

Rauf Arif

This book explores social media as an alternative channel of communication and resistance in Pakistan, Tunisia and Egypt, and argues that the term "Arab Spring" limits the scope of acknowledgement for the ongoing online and offline political uprisings in the Muslim World, which started beyond the geographical boundaries of the Middle East. Beginning with an exploration of the pivotal role of Al Jazeera and how it used social media content from protestors to make the uprisings a global conversation, this book takes readers through an overview of creative political protests in each of the three case countries, before delving into an in-depth examination of a specific icon that sparked each revolution in question, and an overview of social movements and the politico-cultural context in each country. In closing, this book offers an understanding on how the new collective memories of nations using social media to protest will affect future generations who are striving to rise against authoritarian regimes, including the Algerian Spring that is ongoing in 2019.

This book can appeal to a wide range of audiences, both inside and outside the academic world. Within academia, courses covering topics such as social media, social movements, comparative politics, Middle Eastern studies and global communication could use this book as a learning tool. In non-academic settings, journalism practitioners could benefit from this book to examine how social media can be an alternate media in the absence of traditional media, and how traditional news media outlets can collaborate with and utilize social media to perform their journalistic duty in oppressive regimes.

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1 Understanding Social Movements in the Context of Communication

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Understanding Social Movements in the Context of Communication

Overview

In the 21st century, the Internet continues to redefine, challenge and change the overall scope of human communication, and social media has become an integral part of political communication (Edgerly, Vraga, Dalrymple, Macafee & Fung, 2013; Milan, 2015; Treré, 2016). This book analyzes the use of social media—including YouTube videos involving political protests by social movements in Pakistan, Egypt and Tunisia—and compares Pakistan’s political crisis of 2007 with the political uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. These latter uprisings are part of what is commonly known as the Arab Spring of 2011. By situating the North African uprisings in the broader concept of the Muslim world, this book explores how online political activism is related to the broader concept of social movements (Dewey, 1954; Gerbaudo, 2016; Ghannam, 2011; Habermas, 1989; Harb, 2011; Milan, 2015; Skocpol, 1979; Tilly, 1992; Volpi, 2017) and what role communication plays in the formation and sustainability of these political uprisings.

To begin, this chapter will discuss (1) what social movements and revolutions are; (2) the historical development of the concepts of social movements and revolutions; (3) Hirschman (1970), Tarrow (1998) and Lohmann’s (1994) perspectives on the ideological paradigms of social movements and revolutions; ←13 | 14→(4) the importance and contribution of iconic images for social movements; and (5) an explanation of the significance of digital communication in the creation and sustainability of social movements during the political...

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