1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
When the Arab Spring erupted in 2010, one of the first things people noticed was the very visible
role social media seemed to play. Many began to call the series of political uprisings “Twitter
Revolutions” and a lively debate broke out about the importance of the new technology.
The Egypt revolution started in December 2010; unprecedented mass demonstrations against
poverty, corruption, and political repression broke out in several Arab countries, challenging the
authority of some of the most entrenched regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. Such was
the case in Egypt, where in 2011 a popular uprising forced one of the region‟s longest-serving
and most influential leaders, President Hosni Mubarak from power.
The first demonstrations occurred in Tunisia in December 2010, triggered by the selfimmolation of a young man frustrated by Tunisia‟s high unemployment rate and rampant police
corruption. Rallies calling for President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to step down spread throughout
the country, with policeoften resorting to violence to control the crowds. As clashes between
police and protesters escalated, Ben Ali announced a series of economic and political reforms in
an unsuccessful attempt to end the unrest. Demonstrations continued, forcing Ben Ali to flee the
country. The apparent success of the popular uprising in Tunisia, by then dubbed the Jasmine
Revolution, inspired similar movements in other countries, including Egypt, Yemen, and Libya.
In Egypt, demonstrations organized by youth groups, largely independent of Egypt‟s
established opposition parties, took hold in the capital and in cities around the country. Protesters
called for Mubārak to step down immediately, clearing the way for free elections and democracy.
As the demonstrations gathered strength, the Mubārak regime resortead to increasingly violent
tactics against protesters, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths. Mubārak‟s attempts to
placate the protesters with concessions, including a pledge to step down at the end of his term in
2011 and naming Omar Suleiman as vice president, the first person to serve as such in
Mubārak‟s nearly three-decade presidency did little to quell the unrest. After almost three weeks
of mass protests in Egypt, Mubārak stepped down as president, leaving the Egyptian military in
control of the country.
Although protesters in Egypt focused most of their anger on domestic issues such as poverty and
government oppression, many observers noted that political change in Egypt could impact the
country‟s foreign affairs, affecting long-standing policies. Central elements of Egypt‟s foreign
policy under Mubārak and his predecessor as president, Anwar el-Sādāt, such as Egypt‟s
political-military alignment with the United States and the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty,
embraced by Egypt‟s leaders but unpopular with the Egyptian public, could be weakened or
rejected under a new regime.
International reactions to the 2011 Egyptian revolution refer to external responses to the
events that took place in Egypt between 25 January and 10 February 2011, as well as some of the
events after the collapse of the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, such as
Mubarak’s trial. The reactions have generally been either measured or supportive of the Egyptian
people, with most governments and organizations calling for non-violent responses on both sides
and peaceful moves towards reform. Whilst the protesters called for Mubarak to step down
immediately, most foreign governments stopped short of this demand, at least during the early
phases of the protests, due to real politik concerns about the consequences of a power vacuum on
the stability of Egypt specifically and to the wider Middle East as a whole. Some Middle Eastern
leaders expressed support for Mubarak. Meanwhile many governments issued travel advisories
and evacuated their citizens from the country.
The protests captured worldwide attention in part due to the increasing use of Twitter, Face
book, YouTube, and other social-media platforms, which empowered activists and onlookers to
communicate, coordinate, and document the events as they occur. Many countries experienced
their own solidarity protests in support of the Egyptians. As the levels of meta-publicity
increased, the Egyptian government stepped up efforts to limit Internet access, especially to
social media. In response there has been hacktivism, with global groups attempting to provide
alternative communication methods for the Egyptians.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
There is no doubt that that social media has impacted in the social and political mobilization in
around the world, in the Middle East, in Africa, and other regions.
Since the Arab revolution came about in the first half of 2011, social media has been referred to
as a key factor in political and social mobilization. Social media has served as a powerful to
revolutionary movements in different parts of the world, mainly in Africa and in third world
countries. There have been several debates on the impacts of social media on political and social
mobilization, in view of these debates, this study seeks to determine whether social media has
impacted on political and social mobilization.
The main thrust of this study is to take an objective view assessing the impact of social media on
the political and social mobilization in Africa using the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 as a case
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF RESEARCH
The broad objective of this study is to assess the impact of social media on the political
and social mobilization in Africa.
The specific objectives are to:
1. Identify the history and role of social media in the political and social mobilization of the
2. Determine the extent to which social media has impacted on political and social
mobilization of Egyptians and other sympathizers towards the revolution;
3. Analyze the social and political implications of social media in the Egyptian revolution
of 2011; and
4. Identify whether social media as a factor was a major contributor to the political and
social mobilization in the Egyptian revolution.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are drawn mainly from the objectives and would guide the
conduct of this work.
What role did social media play in Africa before the Egyptian Revolution of 2011?
To what extent was social media used to advance individual and collective interests in the
Egyptian Revolution of 2011?
Did social media impact positively or otherwise on the Egyptian Revolution of 2011?
How important was the social media to the political and social mobilization in the
Egyptian revolution of 2011?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The main purpose of this research is to determine the impacts of social media on the
political and social mobilization in Africa. This research would also help to analyze how
important social media is to the mobilization of Africa; both socially and politically.
Another major significance of this research is to show how social media impacted on the
Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and how it further affected political and social mobilization across
In addition to this, this study will serve as reference point to the other students and researchers
that are to carry out a research on this subject matter and will also serve as a contribution to
knowledge to non-academic persons as they can read it and have better understanding of what
the subject matter is.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study will focus on the impact of social media on the political and
social mobilization in Africa; a case study of the Egyptian revolution of 2011.
Furthermore, this study will adopt Egypt as its main setting in assessing the impacts of social
media on the political and social mobilization in Africa, focusing on the 2011, being period in
which the Revolution took place.
1.7 ORGANISATION OF THE STUDY
This research study is organized into five chapters.
The first chapter includes the introduction to the study, a background to the study, the
statement of problem and the objectives of the study. This chapter also entails the research
question, the research hypothesis, the significance of the study, the scope as well as the research
methodology and the operational definition of terms.
Chapter two comprises of the review of literature, theoretical frameworks as well as the
conceptual clarification of terms
The following section, chapter three discusses the methodology employed for the
gathering of data, both primary and secondary source of data collection; while the fourth chapter
focuses on the analysis of the data obtained for the study of this research. Finally, chapter five
focuses on the findings, conclusions and recommendations of this study
1.8 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
A combination of secondary and primary was employed. The secondary data shall be
from relevant books, journals, releases, other publications and online materials; it will also
include official documents, press releases and publications from governments, all which were
explored during the course of this study.
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