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

  1. Media Environments and the Dilemma of Collective Action in the Egyptian Revolution Alexander Hanna Department of Sociology, UW-Madison
  2. About me 4th year PhD student in sociology Background in computer science and math Son of Egyptian immigrants
  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. Today's talk Media environments and the dilemma of collective action in the Egyptian revolution
  5. Chronology of the Egyptian revolution (1/3) ● June 6, 2010: Death of Khaled Said ● Dec. 17, 2010: Self- immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, Tunisia protests Image Source: http://www.guardian.co. uk/world/2011/jun/17/arab-spring-end-anyone- begin guess
  6. Chronology of Egyptian revolution (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. Chronology of Egyptian revolution (3/3) ● Feb 2, 2011: Net turned back on, Battle of the Camel ● Feb 11, 2011: Mubarak resigns, army assumes power
  8. Dilemma of collective action People won't participate in collective action (like a protest) unless they have guarantees that others will. Otherwise, they will have no incentive to participate, will "free ride" on the contributions of others (Mancur Olson)
  9. Examples of the dilemma of collective action ● Contributing to Wikipedia (a public good) ○ Why contribute to Wikipedia when others are going to do it? ● Prisoner's dilemma ● How to resolve? ○ Communication!
  10. Egypt's political environment ● 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. Bringing in the media environment ● 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. Egyptian Media Environment -- 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. Old Egyptian Media Environment
  14. New Egyptian Media Environment
  15. Research question Can new media, like regional satellite television and social media, help activists overcome dilemma of collective action?
  16. Example 1: Sherif Sherif hears about protests only on state TV. State TV says the protests will be small, filled with thugs and criminals.
  17. Example 2: Nana Nana hears about protests in Cairo and Tunisia from al- Jazeera (AJ) and also hears state TV's story. AJ is supportive of the protests.
  18. Example 3: Alaa Alaa watches AJ and state TV, and also communicates with his friends on Twitter and Facebook, seeing what they are going to do. Image source: http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Alaa_Abd_El-Fattah
  19. Who is most likely to protest?
  20. Methods of research 1. Network and textual analysis 2. Interviews 3. Content analysis of TV Why these methods?
  21. Full survey results at www.iri.org/sites/default/files/2011 June 5 Survey of Egyptian Public Opinion, April 14-27, 2011_0.pdf
  22. Data for network and textual analysis Dataset of over 12 million tweets collected on #jan25 and other Egypt keywords from Jan 25 to March 1 Need to identify who people are speaking to and what they are saying without having to read every single tweet
  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. Textual analysis Who talks about going to protest?
  25. Interviews Talking to people who used social media, watched different types of TV, and participated in the revolution on January 25 and 28. Looking at a variety of different cities - Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Mahalla Planning to do this next year
  26. Content analysis of TV Analyzing state TV and regional satellite TV for protesting framing and cues. vs.
  27. Conclusion Need to better understand how people respond to media and how it affects how they participate in collective action.
  28. Thanks! Questions? alex.hanna@gmail.com http://alex-hanna.com @alexhanna
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