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Digital Resistance in the Middle East

New Media Activism in Everyday Life

Deborah L. Wheeler

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Explores how internet use empowers Arab citizens

This book argues that Internet diffusion and use in the Middle East enables meaningful micro-changes in citizens’ lives, even in states where no Arab Spring revolution occurred. Using ethnographic evidence and taking a comparative perspective, it presents a grass roots look at how new media use fits into the practice of everyday life. It explores why citizens use social media to digitally route around state and other forms of power at work in their lives. This increase in citizen civic engagement, supported by new media use, offers the possibility of a new order of things, from redefining patriarchal power relations at home, to reconfigurations of citizens’ relationships with the state, broadly defined. The author argues that new media channels offer pathways to empowerment widely and cheaply in the Middle East.

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Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
Introduction
Chapter 1. A Brief History of Internet Diffusion and Impact in the Middle East
Chapter 2. IT 4 Regime Change: Networking around the State in Egypt
Chapter 3. No More Red Lines: Networking around the state in Jordan
Chapter 4. Hurry Up and Wait: Oppositional Compliance and Networking around the State in Kuwait
Chapter 5. The Micro-Demise of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Networking around the State in Comparative Perspective
Chapter 6. Fear the State: Repression and the Risks of Resistance in the Middle East
Conclusion
Appendix
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Deborah L. Wheeler is Associate Professor of Political Science at the United States Naval Academy. She is author of Internet in the Middle East: Global Expectations and Local Imaginations in Kuwait (State University of New York Press, 2006).

Reviews

Wheeler's ethnographic approach to the study of the impact of the internet on Arab societies yields refreshing insights into how ordinary young people engage with new information technologies. This book makes for a welcome addition to the literature on the internet and politics in the Middle East, and shows the value of closely observing how real people's lives have been changed.

- Marc Lynch, George Washington University

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