The role of social media in mobilizing political protest: evidence from the Tunisian revolution

The role of social media in mobilizing political protest: evidence from the Tunisian revolution

Download PDF 711 KB

Breuer, Anita
Discussion Paper 10/2012

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

ISBN: 978-3-88985-553-4
Preis: 6 € (Druckvorlage)

One of the hallmarks of the Tunisian uprising that ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 was its broad base of support. To the surprise of many Middle East experts who had previously regarded co-opted and quiescent middle classes as the bedrock of stability for authoritarian regimes in the region, the Tunisian revolution rode on the back of a broad coalition of social forces that united an alienated intellectual elite with the rural poor and urban middle classes in opposition to the regime. It is a widely shared assumption that this joining of disparate forces would not have been possible without modern communication technologies and social media. But it is less clear exactly how such social media interacted with other contextual factors to bring about a national protest movement of sufficient proportions to topple an extremely entrenched authoritarian regime. Drawing on evidence from the popular protests in Tunisia between December 2010 and January 2011, expert interviews with Tunisian bloggers, and a web survey conducted among Tunisian Facebook users, this paper argues that social media (1) allowed a “digital elite” to form personal networks and circumvent the national media blackout by brokering information for outside mainstream media; (2) helped to overcome the “free rider” problem of collective action by reporting the magnitude of protest events; and (3) facilitated the formation of a national collective identity which was supportive of protest action and transcended geographical and socio-economic disparities by providing a shared, mobilizingelement of emotional grievance.

Über die Autorin

Breuer, Anita

Politikwissenschaftlerin

Anita Breuer

Weitere Expertinnen/Experten zu diesem Thema

Altenburg, Tilman

Wirtschaftsgeograph 

Figueroa, Aurelia

Ökonomin 

Furness, Mark

Politikwissenschaftler 

Grävingholt, Jörn

Politologe 

Leininger, Julia

Politikwissenschaftlerin 

Vidican, Georgeta

Ökonomin 

Mroß, Karina

Internationale Beziehungen 

  • Drucken

Aktuelle Publikationen

Entwicklungspolitische Beiträge zu einer europäischen Flüchtlingspolitik

Hackenesch, Christine / Julia Leininger
Die aktuelle Kolumne, 05.05.2015

Was folgt auf die Millenniums-Entwicklungsziele?

Brandi, Clara / Dirk Messner
Externe Publikationen, 30.04.2015

How sustainable is bioenergy production in the Philippines? A conjoint analysis of knowledge and opinions of people with different typologies

Acosta, Lilibeth A. / Nelson H. Enano Jr. / Damasa B. Magcale-Macandog / Kathreena G. Engay / Maria Noriza Q. Herrera / Ozzy Boy S. Nicopior / Mic Ivan V. Sumilang / Jemimah Mae A. Eugenio / Wolfgang Lucht
Externe Publikationen, 30.04.2015

Reducing vulnerability of rural communities in the Philippines: modelling social links between science and policy

Acosta-Michlik, Lilibeth A. / Maria Victoria Espaldon
Externe Publikationen, 30.04.2015

Burundi: Von der Instabilität zur Eskalation

Klingenbiel, Stephan
Die aktuelle Kolumne, 28.04.2015