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Cyberactivism in a non-democratic context : social campaigning in Saudi Arabia

Abalkhail, AM Cyberactivism in a non-democratic context : social campaigning in Saudi Arabia , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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There has been a growing literature concerning the role of online technologies in fostering collective action in democratic countries (Bennett and Segerberg, 2012, 2013; Bimber et al., 2005). However, studies in non-democratic settings have tended to focus on high profile but often relatively short-term mobilisations. Longer-term online activism and campaigns outside democratic settings have remained relatively under-researched and difficult to analyse. This thesis, therefore, seeks to examine some of the existing assumptions around collective action, derived largely from experiences in democratic countries, by focusing on a country with no tradition of collective activism. It draws on Bennett and Segerberg’s (2013) framework of connective action logic, to analyse two case studies from Saudi Arabia:the Women’s Right to Drive Campaign (October 26th campaign), and the Teachers’ Rights campaign. In particular, this study examines the role of the Internet in three areas: (a) mobilising support for campaigns; (b) shaping the organisational structure of collective action; and (c) challenging the systemic environment. In order to address these issues, the thesis draws on two types of data: firstly, extensive interviews with campaigners and international journalists and secondly, social network analysis. Final results indicate that Internet technologies have help to create a new space, allowing social campaigners to express themselves without significant disruption and to achieve some of their goals, although the social and political context plays an equally important role in shaping campaigns as technology does. It has also proved a useful tool for countering media hostility and negative coverage. The Internet did not affect the organisational structure of either of these campaigns, which still followed a hierarchal structure even though some started as ‘connective action’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Funders: Imam university
Depositing User: AM Abalkhail
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2016 08:35
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2016 12:26

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