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After Egypt: The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to the Authoritarian Arab State

  • Marc Lynch (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 03 June 2011

The uprisings which swept across the Arab world beginning in December 2010 pose a serious challenge to many of the core findings of the political science literature focused on the durability of the authoritarian Middle Eastern state. The impact of social media on contentious politics represents one of the many areas which will require significant new thinking. The dramatic change in the information environment over the last decade has changed individual competencies, the ability to organize for collective action, and the transmission of information from the local to the international level. It has also strengthened some of the core competencies of authoritarian states even as it has undermined others. The long term evolution of a new kind of public sphere may matter more than immediate political outcomes, however. Rigorous testing of competing hypotheses about the impact of the new social media will require not only conceptual development but also the use of new kinds of data analysis not traditionally adopted in Middle East area studies.

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Eva Bellin . 2004. “Arab Authoritarianism in Comparative Perspective.” Comparative Politics 36(2): 139157.

Larry Diamond . 2010. “Liberation Technology.” Journal of Democracy 21(3): 6983.

Fred Halliday . 2003. The Middle East in International Relations. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Phillip N. Howard 2010. The Digital Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship. New York: Oxford University Press.

Vicki Langhor . 2004. “Too Much Civil Society, Too Little Politics: The Case of Egypt and Arab Liberalizers.” Comparative Politics 36(2): 181204.

Emma C. Murphy 2009. “Theorizing ICTs in the Arab World: Informational Capitalism and the Public Sphere.” International Studies Quarterly 53: 11311153.

Lisa Wedeen . 2008. Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power and Performance in Yemen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
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