Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Social Media under Duress: State Responses to Political Expression and Social Mobilization in Repressive Regimes

Buy Article:

$26.16 + tax (Refund Policy)

Social media, in a number of diverse forms, figures prominently in both routine and crisis situations to initiate and amplify political action. Events beginning with the Green Revolution in Iran (2009), anti-government protests in North Africa (2011), and violent protests in Syria (2012) have employed varying methods of social media mobilization. Political mass movements are relying on social media networks for late-breaking events, civil disobedience, network activism, and a host of similar functions. These technological potentialities are proving to be effective methods for keeping protest movements active, recruiting both leaders and followers, and in countering state-controlled media. Governments have been slow to recognize the power of social media to organise and direct opposition and protest movements. Yet the experiences of 2011, especially during the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, have raised the profile of social media in the purview of state and society alike. Governments unsympathetic to organised, unmanaged political opposition are planning and implementing specific technical and political and other measures to control the access and use of social media networks for political action. This paper will utilize a model that takes these experiences and events as inputs through which to profile the interactions between political opposition and civil society groups, and steps taken by governments to inhibit or suppress social media-based mobilization. The model generates four dimensions of social media use: (1) Access; (2) Anonymity; (3) Awareness; and (4) Advocacy. Each dimension represents a scale of conditions that enables and enhances the power of social media in the context of political protest or, conversely, inhibits the utility of social media to place demands on government. I will examine three cases (Iran, 2009, Tunisia, 2010-2011, and Egypt 2011) to: (1) illuminate the initial conditions in each country for the employment of social media as a catalyst for political opposition and protest; (2) chart the course of various social media techniques and parallel human organization during active periods of public protest; (3) identify initial attempts by governments to control or inhibit the use of these social media and their underlying communications infrastructure; and (4) reveal subsequent plans and actions by successor governments to encourage, discourage, block, or otherwise control, future use of these technologies.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Information for Advertisers
  • Order hard copies of STAIR
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more