Where is the Egyptian voice and experience in the use of social media in political activism within Egypt?

Last week the Elthman and Burns’ article explored the importance of Twitter during the 2009 election in Iran, how different political actors and protestors used the social media site and how political actors responded to its use. While other theorists like Morozov took a negative outlook on the impact of Twitter during the election in Iran, this week’s article “Social Media and the Decision to Participate in Political Protest: Observations From Tahrir Square” by Tufekci and Wilson takes a more middle ground argument on how social media affected Egypt after the resignation of Mubarak. Tufekci and Wilson said, “The emerging public sphere [in Egypt] both drew from and contributed to offline political activity and should not be analyzed in an either/or fashion,” (p. 366). Tufekci and Wilson’s article collected surveys of protestors’ use of the media during the protests just after Mubarak’s resignation and the demographics of the survey participants. Tufekci and Wilson found that social media took away and added to political participation and that communication about the protests was done through a mixture of means including face-to-face communication, Facebook, phones, and television. Tufekci and Wilson provided research data on the actual usage of a sample of protestors. This takes into account hard data compared to literary analysis and theory. I prefer this kind of study about social media usage and impacts, because it uses data from real protestors. However, I think that an even more accurate study would include interviews with protestors about their experiences with media and political activism, how they use it, how they feel it impacted the situation within Egypt in addition to the survey data from the Tufekci and Wilson article.

How might personal interviews from protestors help to provide a better account of the role social media in political activism in Egypt? Why are the voices of Egyptians important in telling their own stories? How might outside researchers and theorists be unintentionally bias in their accounts of what happened in Egypt?

About brittanyverner

I am a young, enthusiastic writer and HCLF vegan cook that is new to the blogging world. I enjoy volunteering at my church, singing, traveling to Spanish speaking countries, eating healthy, doing any form of exercise, riding horses, reading fantasy/sci-fi novels, and playing Final Fantasy on my PS3.
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2 Responses to Where is the Egyptian voice and experience in the use of social media in political activism within Egypt?

  1. margauxsax says:

    One-on-one interviews with the protestors–who were typically young, educated and jobless–allows us to see how social media was used in the Egyptian protests instead of focusing on whether or not individuals used it. Focusing on key characteristics of the protestors and the ways in which social media was incorporated in the dissemination of anti-regime information will help researchers understand the bigger picture. It’s important to listen to the Egyptians’ stories to learn reasons behind their social unrest and how they were able to successfully organize even with government resistance.

  2. nverduin says:

    Personal interviews will clue researchers in on how people are using these new media tools rather than simply seeing if social media was used or not. Just as we saw in Pasek’s study, it is what the tools provide and how users mediate them that produce effects. The voices of Egyptians will silences the west’s sweeping accusations about social medias affect on the protests and tell the story from a first hand account rather than what was happening outside of the country. We can truly see how social media was used in organization and the spread of important information. However, I do think that the snowball sampling should be taken into account and no sweeping generalizations should be made. Those most willing to talk and the likely more centralized protestors could have a higher involvement with the demonstrations than the average protester and therefore skew the data found.

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