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Volume 4, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN: 1751-9411
  • E-ISSN: 1751-942X


The role that social media could play in engaging people in the democratic process has recently gained more attention following the series of mass protests and revolutions that has swept the Arab region starting with Tunisia, then emulated in Egypt, and now taking place in Libya. It has been argued that those revolutions were linked, at least in the preliminary stages, to the active use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This article attempts to shed light on these assertions by reporting some early observations from a study which was conducted immediately prior to the revolution in Egypt. In particular it explores the young activists’ perceptions of the potential of social media for mobilizing activism in authoritarian regimes. It thus helps situating social media (SM) in the spectrum of political engagement by gauging young activists’ motivations for utilizing those outlets for political participation aimed at social and political change. This article relies on a survey of a snowball sample of young Egyptian activists, along with focus group discussions (FGD) also, to seek answers to questions about contextual factors such as media scepticism, political efficacy and fear of authority, which are expected to relate to social media motivations and users’ tendencies to engage in forms of online and offline political participation. The findings indicate that young activists were mainly driven by guidance and surveillance needs in their political utilization of social networking sites. A strong positive correlation between online and offline political participation was also detected.


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