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Revolution 2.0? - Social media and political changes in Egypt and beyond

by Merlyna Lim, http://www.merlyna.org
by

m lim

on 26 September 2016

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Transcript of Revolution 2.0? - Social media and political changes in Egypt and beyond

REVOLUTION 2.0?
social media and political changes in Egypt & beyond
merlyna lim
consortium for science, policy & outcomes (cspo)
school of social transformation - justice & social inquiry
robert Cohen, New York Times
malcolm gladwell, newyorker
jillian york
frank rich, newyorktimes
sean webster, world news
re/oppression
corruption
poverty
unemployment
literacy
urbanization
education
access to information/ICT
increased
but these were not 'causes'
there were 'reasons'
for contentions
collective actions
mobilization
regime change
reform
democracy
revolution
affordance
youth + social media?
these were actually structural dynamics that create opportunities, but not causes
of oppositional networks
either over or under emphasizing the role of social media — Twitter and Facebook)– both are deterministic
focusing too much on the specific time frame (from jan25th onward for Egypt) — as if the social movement came up from nowhere.
focusing too much on some specific actors — missing the big picture.
rare attempts to locate what is the actual place/role of technology (social media/Internet) and what did these technological platforms do?
many saw the event as being ‘unexpected’, mostly because these ‘people’ didn’t pay attention to (cyber)activism in the region, especially in Egypt before end of January this year
of course, you cannot see what you have made invisible. underground oppositional movement can be invisible (and internet is vast and convivial, it can leave the invisible invisible) until they are propelled into action by some events.
anger
Kefaya:
The Egyptian Movement for Change
Mr Mubarak 26 yrs is Enough - كفاية -Kefaya Song 2.0-
primary completion rate 95%
school completion, tertiary 26.6%
urban population 57.6%
united several political parties, incl. MB
plural ideologies: islamist, communist, liberal
embracing multiple groups (women, youth, journalists, writers, artists
first Anti-Mubarak movement
first political group without physical headquarter
website as 'the meeting space'
first digital independent newspaper Misr Digital
members -> blogger activists
identity crisis -- movement vs youth
split with Islamists
decline before reaching critical mass
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
Mubarak
enough/kefaya/kifaya
protest
Arabic Facebook available
Map of Arab blogosphere (Etling et al, 2009)
source: Blogtrackers 2011, thank you Shamanth Kumar for assisting.
inheritance of power
(no to succession)
emergency law
torture, police brutality
labor issue (e.g. wage)
Israel-Palestine
anti-war
religious violence/discrimination
judicial independence
women's rights
unemployment
anti-Mubarak
down
Mubarak
down

Tunis revolution
poverty
post Islamist Arab-street politics
routinizing online - offline connectivity
networks
narratives
repertoires of contentions
claim making
globalizing the movement
convergence & intermodality
MB growth in blogosphere
split of MB
unhomogenous MB
Egyptian blogosphere
largest cluster of Arab blogosphere
most political
Clusters
secular reformist loose-knit Kefaya
wider opposition: Tomorrow Party, leftist, Nasserist, gay rights
Egyptian youth: half are women, into culture (poetry, literature, art), human rights, women's rights
Egyptian Islamic: Islamic discourse
Muslim Brotherhood: conservative, moderate, support women's & Christian Copt's rights
post-Election torture/arrest/kidnap
April 6 Youth Movement
corruption
strong ties + weak ties
the network is big enough
social networking -- participatory culture
Islam
human rights
democracy
reform
abstract, exclusive
tangible, concrete, shared contentions
we have problems here...
2003 Internet in MENA started growing
2003 First generation Egyptian bloggers/activists
traditional clusters
islamist
liberalist
leftist
secularist
reformist
Kefaya
Post 2005 Election
shutting / cracking down oppositions
* MB's change of strategy -- closer to Kefaya than Islam fundamentalist
Kefaya in Blogosphere
if so... why didn't we just unfriend Saddam Husein? and poke Bin Laden? :D
was it because of social media?
or..... not?
some say these were 'real causes'
some called these "causes"
The actual role(s) of social media is that it provided 'space' for the establishment of human agency and the expansion of social networks for collective actions, by facilitating:

the sustainance of old and the emergence of new networks of oppositional actors (to the ruling regime) under repressive regime and police brutality
the brokerage of various networks (that previously weren’t connected)
the diffusion of contentions beyond the 'true believers'
the expansion of networks by enabling the connections of strong ties and weak ties
the globalization of movement

Activists, however, had to accommodate this 'technological' affordance by:
identifying 'right' issues and shared 'contentions'
crafting the shared 'repertoire' of contention
transforming abstract, complex, narrative(s) into simpler and tangible narrative that's closer to everyday people's experience -- from 'democracy, human rights' to 'corruption, torture, poverty, unemployment'
identifying symbolic representation iconic figure(s) to strengthen the oppositional narrative (of victimization) -- Khaled Said

and
routinizing the connection of online and offline to claim 'power'
making use the cascading information from online to the street (using other medium such as good old pamphlets, traditional human networks, mobile phone)
networks
narratives
claim making
while Egypt witnessed the fall of a dictator, successful mobilization does not always leads to a regime change. and a regime change does not always lead to a reform, and certainly does not automatically translate into democracy.
Jan 25 - Feb 11, 2011
how to analyze a moment? cannot look merely at the moment itself...
every moment actually has a history!
before that Jan 25th Tahrir Square revolution... there were these strikes...
and more before....
and some more...
... why there's none here?
... but there're some here...
and what happened here?
.... here're some more, again...
... and just one more...
...oh not much happening here...
...more again...
and more.....
...and ooh... none here...
... many more....
... here was the first Anti-Mubarak movement....
... it was Kefaya... transforming Intifada into anti-government movement... marking the beginning of Post Islamist Egyptian street politics..
... it was started here...
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