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Media Environments and the Dilemma of Collective Action in the Egyptian Revolution


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A presentation I gave to an introductory sociology course at Madison Area Technical College on December 10, 2012.

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Media Environments and the Dilemma of Collective Action in the Egyptian Revolution

  1. 1. Media Environments and theDilemma of Collective Action inthe Egyptian RevolutionAlexander HannaDepartment of Sociology, UW-Madison
  2. 2. About me4th year PhD studentin sociologyBackground incomputer science andmathSon of Egyptianimmigrants
  3. 3. My research agenda● How people use various media to overcome collective action problems in authoritarian environments ○ e.g: Egypt, China● Political elites and their followers in social media ○ Large-scale Twitter collections surrounding 2010, 2012 elections
  4. 4. Todays talkMedia environments and the dilemma ofcollective action in the Egyptian revolution
  5. 5. Chronology of the Egyptianrevolution (1/3)● June 6, 2010: Death of Khaled Said● Dec. 17, 2010: Self- immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, Tunisia protests Image Source: uk/world/2011/jun/17/arab-spring-end-anyone- begin guess
  6. 6. Chronology of Egyptianrevolution (2/3) ● Jan 14, 2011: Pres. of Tunisia, Ben Ali, steps down ● Jan 25: First major protests in Egypt ● Jan 27: Net turned off ● Jan 28: "Friday of Rage"
  7. 7. Chronology of Egyptianrevolution (3/3)● Feb 2, 2011: Net turned back on, Battle of the Camel● Feb 11, 2011: Mubarak resigns, army assumes power
  8. 8. Dilemma of collectiveactionPeople wont participate in collective action (likea protest) unless they have guarantees thatothers will.Otherwise, they will have no incentive toparticipate, will "free ride" on the contributionsof others (Mancur Olson)
  9. 9. Examples of the dilemmaof collective action● Contributing to Wikipedia (a public good) ○ Why contribute to Wikipedia when others are going to do it?● Prisoners dilemma● How to resolve? ○ Communication!
  10. 10. Egypts politicalenvironment● Over 60 years of dictatorial rule, and under colonial rule for much longer.● Laws prohibiting protesting.● How can people communicate for Image source: http://english.alarabiya. net/articles/2011/04/28/146997.html protests?
  11. 11. Bringing in the mediaenvironment● Different types of media that compete for audience attention.● In the US ○ TV: CNN, Fox, MSNBC ○ Newspapers: NY Times, Washington Post, Wisconsin State Journal ○ Radio: NPR ○ Internet: Facebook, Twitter, blogs
  12. 12. Egyptian MediaEnvironment -- in transition● Old media environment ○ State-controlled TV and newspapers control what people see, hear, and think ○ Nothing critical of the regime, all broadcasting to audience● New media environment ○ Introduction of private TV, both regional and domestic ○ Private newspapers ○ Social media ○ Many different voices, audience can respond
  13. 13. Old Egyptian MediaEnvironment
  14. 14. New Egyptian MediaEnvironment
  15. 15. Research questionCan new media, like regional satellite televisionand social media, help activists overcomedilemma of collective action?
  16. 16. Example 1: SherifSherif hears aboutprotests only on stateTV.State TV says theprotests will be small,filled with thugs andcriminals.
  17. 17. Example 2: Nana Nana hears about protests in Cairo and Tunisia from al- Jazeera (AJ) and also hears state TVs story. AJ is supportive of the protests.
  18. 18. Example 3: AlaaAlaa watches AJ andstate TV, and alsocommunicates with hisfriends on Twitter andFacebook, seeingwhat they are going todo. Image source: http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Alaa_Abd_El-Fattah
  19. 19. Who is most likely toprotest?
  20. 20. Methods of research1. Network and textual analysis2. Interviews3. Content analysis of TVWhy these methods?
  21. 21. Full survey results at June 5 Survey ofEgyptian Public Opinion, April 14-27, 2011_0.pdf
  22. 22. Data for network andtextual analysisDataset of over 12 million tweets collected on#jan25 and other Egypt keywords from Jan 25to March 1Need to identify who people are speaking toand what they are saying without having toread every single tweet
  23. 23. Network analysis● Understanding who speaks to who● Who is the most central?● Are there particular groups of people who speak to each other constantly?
  24. 24. Textual analysis Who talks about going to protest?
  25. 25. InterviewsTalking to people who used social media,watched different types of TV, and participatedin the revolution on January 25 and 28.Looking at a variety of different cities - Cairo,Alexandria, Suez, MahallaPlanning to do this next year
  26. 26. Content analysis of TVAnalyzing state TV and regional satellite TV forprotesting framing and cues. vs.
  27. 27. ConclusionNeed to better understand how people respondto media and how it affects how they participatein collective action.
  28. 28. Thanks!Questions?alex.hanna@gmail.com