We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

‘Seeing Each Other for the First Time’: Politics and Social Media in Middle-Class Cairo

WOOTTON, MATTHEW JOHN (2016) ‘Seeing Each Other for the First Time’: Politics and Social Media in Middle-Class Cairo. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


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.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:social media, Facebook, Egypt, internet, protest, space, politics, geography, authoritarianism, middle east politics, preference falsification, affordances, revolution, weak ties
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Jun 2016 16:18

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter