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Facebook and Communicative Action: The Power of Social Media During the 2011 Egyptian Revolution

By Joel Bowerbank


Social media had an impactful role in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Facebook as a public sphere space was used as a powerful tool to enhance communicative action among Egyptians, dissidents, and global observers. Drawing on the philosophical and theoretical notions of individuality and the responsibilities of the state of John Locke (1689; 1690), Jean Jacques Rousseau (1762); the public sphere and communicative action of Jürgen Habermas (1981; 1989); and Manuel Castells network society and new public sphere (2004; 2006; 2008), this thesis empirically investigates the role of social media, specifically Facebook, during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Theories and concepts including the strength of weak ties, social movement theory, and Internet and organizational theory, a discussion of recent writings from both sides of the spectrum—those believing social media to hold power and those with the opposite view—inform the theoretical foundation of this thesis. The primary purpose of this thesis is to better understand what power lies in Facebook as used during the Egyptian Revolution. Using a qualitative approach, a methodological frame is employed to examine both the form and content of Facebook posts. This study concludes three major findings regarding the social power of Facebook during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution: the power of attention and momentum, the power of cooperation, and the creation of a repository of information and communication

Topics: facebook, social media, communicative action, habermass, communication, political crisis
Publisher: Université d'Ottawa / University of Ottawa
Year: 2013
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Provided by: Recherche uO Research
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