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Waechter, Natalia (2019): The participative role of social media for the disadvantaged young generation in the Arab Spring. In: Osterreichische Zeitschrift Fuer Soziologie, Vol. 44: pp. 217-236
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Abstract

The progressing digitalization of society has led scholars to hope that socially disadvantaged groups of the population may gain increased access to political participation. Using the example of the young Arab population who protested in the Arab Spring, this article investigates whether the use of social media has supported their political engagement. It analyzes the extent to which social media has been used for political purposes and also investigates the participation in protests during the Arab Spring, both in a generational comparison. The analysis is based on international survey data from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia, gained within the framework of the FP7 project "Arab Transformations". The article connects theoretically to the debate on the role of social media in new protest movements as well as to the concept of a generation based on shared experiences and values. The findings of the empirical analysis and theoretical reflections show that, even though young people were not more active in the protests than older generations, with the help of social media they had initialized the protest and were able to mobilize the adult population.