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Lecture

POLS 251 Lecture Notes - Arab Spring


Department
Political Studies
Course Code
POLS 251
Professor
David York

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Pols 251
February 25 2013
1
“...(I)t is simply a form of organizing which favours the weak-tie connections that
give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere
in the face of danger. It shifts our energies from organizations that promote
strategic and disciplined activity and toward those which promote resilience and
adaptability. It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for
that expression to have any impact.”
“The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order
more efficient. They are not a natural enemy of the status quo.”
Shirky on NSM and the Arab Spring
“...the exciting part is the use of those tools to turn people out on the streets with
this information cascade in which a bunch of people who are dissatisfied with the
society see other protestors not suffering too much, join the protest, it gets larger,
that convinces more people to join and you get this famous information cascade.
...the ability to turn people out on the street-- is the end of a long process rather
than a shortcut. It relies first on having a group of people who essentially know and
trust one another enough to be willing to turn out in the first place. And so when we
look at the Tunisian situation, when we look at the Egyptian situation and
particularly when we compare them to places like Burma or Sudan where there isn't
a deep civil society, or even frankly Libya where the civil society was so fractured
and contentiously competitive with one another, what we see is that the countries
where this kind of turnout worked best was where there had been years of
conversation in advance among people who were politically like-minded enough to
agree on a strategy.”
http://www.neontommy.com/news/2011/11/clay-shirky-how-social-media-abetted-
arab-spring
The effect of NSM on these regimes
Synchronize opinions (E.g. We want Mubarak out)
Coordinate action (“We're hijacking National Police Day, we're taking over January
25 and we're turning it into kind of an ironic protest day. Even though it's National
Police Day we're actually going to make an anti-police statement.")
Document the results (E.g. Record and upload the response of the status quo)
http://www.neontommy.com/news/2011/11/clay-shirky-how-social-media-abetted-
arab-spring
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