Role of Communication Technology in the Social Movement of the Arab Spring

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In recent Middle Eastern social movements Internet-based communication has crucially aided the potential for mass mobilization and the success of movements. 21st century media technologies (such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube, etc.) operate as a semi-public sphere in which people can share dissident attitudes and announce the location of political protests. Internet-based communication therefore plays a dually important role; it acts as an alternative outlet for individual expression, but it also serves as mobilizing tool to broadcast anti-regime demonstrations, programs, and organizations. However, modern communication technology has its limitations and should not be described as an ultimate panacea for social change. Additionally, 21st century media is not entirely unique in its ability to aid political protest. Since the beginning of the 20th century evolving communication technologies have been used by Middle Eastern social movements/political leaders in order to promote policies and ideals. Although this paper will briefly touch on the role of communication technology in the social movements of the Arab Spring, it will mainly focus (both currently and historically) on Iranian social movements.
The Arab Spring, which began in December 2010, has illustrated the value of Internet-based communication in bringing about social change. Political protests leading up to the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 featured a strong use of modern communication technology including cell phones, social media and other Internet-based technology. Although people frequently argue as to whether these technologies were responsible for revolutionary change, the point of this paper is not to attempt to prove the cause of revolution but rather sim...

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