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Expat-ing Democracy

Dissidents, Technology, and Democratic Discourse in the Middle East

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Nir T. Boms

Taking Syria and Iran as case studies, this book explores how expatriate groups have used tools such as technology and new media to influence political discourse and to irrevocably alter the political dynamics both in their home countries and in the Middle East at large. Based on over 60 in-depth interviews with dissidents, expat leaders, journalists and researchers from Syria and Iran that were conducted both before and after the Arab Spring, the author examines the tripartite relationship between technology, dissent and democratization. This approach offers a unique perspective on contemporary geopolitics in the Middle East and considers possible scenarios for the future of the region.
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Appendix I – Methodology and Delphi Interviewees

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The research scope along with the objective difficulties of data collection in countries such as Syria and Ira - has led me to adopt a multidisciplinary research model with a Delphi component at its core. The Delphi technique may be characterized as a method for structuring a group communication process by allowing a group of individuals, as a whole, to deal with a complex problem for which precise information may be unavailable, and to elicit group judgments on values for which information is a matter of opinion. It is questioner based methodology that seeks to find consensus amongst interviewees on key issues and this work used modified Delphi technique based on a Delphi model of Linstone and Murray1 The research was conducted in three phases:

1) The “pre-Delphi” phase, or an initial consultation aimed at the structuring of the Delphi process itself. This began with my own advisors and continued with an initial list of experts, with the aim of further defining the research process, identifying key questions and establishing the criteria for the selection of interviewees.

2) The construction of the Delphi questionnaire. This phase, which progressed along with the pre-Delphi process, was intended to develop the actual questionnaire which would accompany the research itself. Ongoing feedback from the “pre-Delphi” group should help ensure that adequate questions are selected, that important questions are not left out and that the structure of the questionnaire should enable further analysis once data is collected.

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