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Title: "Seeing each other for the first time" : politics and social media in middle-class Cairo
Author: Wootton, Matthew John
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 5891
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2016
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The present study addresses the use of social media by middle-class Cairo residents, contributing to understandings of its political role during a time of upheaval and broad social change surrounding the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Based on in-depth interviews and extended fieldwork, local ways of making sense of social media and its attendant functions are explored, as are its political uses and multifaceted role in individual political trajectories. The study contributes to a literature on the politics of social media which is highly contradictory, with its potential to function as a site of autonomy and participation at odds with accounts emphasizing its apparently depoliticizing nature. Despite extensive scholarly attention there are significant unknowns regarding various processes surrounding the 2011 Egyptian uprisings, in particular the way that social media might be implicated in the puncturing of what have been conceptualized as ‘preference falsification’ dynamics, whereby regimes are said to be maintained by a self-perpetuating unwillingness to express dissent. A related issue concerns the cultural politics of post-revolutionary Cairo, which witnessed a marked rise in activities often framed as socially or politically subversive. While social media appears to have functioned as an important site for the latter, there is a lack of hard evidence as to its role regarding these activities. Addressing these gaps in the literature as well as other concerns, the present study presents illuminating evidence, grounded in user accounts, to argue that the politics of social media are not ahistorical, but rather depend profoundly on a complex interaction between technological affordances, culture, and individual agency. In the process, the distinct spatialities of social media are investigated and issues of visibility, presence, and sociality in social media are established as especially important dimensions of its impact on political life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available