Egyptian Revolution 2.0: Political Blogging, Civic Engagement, and Citizen Journalism

By Samei, Marwa Fikry Abdel | Insight Turkey, Spring 2015 | Go to article overview

Egyptian Revolution 2.0: Political Blogging, Civic Engagement, and Citizen Journalism


Samei, Marwa Fikry Abdel, Insight Turkey


Egyptian Revolution 2.0

Political Blogging, Civic Engagement, and Citizen Journalism

By Mohammed el-Nawawy and Sahar Khamis

New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 252 pages, $95, ISBN 9781137020918.

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The wave of mass protests that swept through the Arab World in early 2011 highlighted the distinct role of the internet-based media tools and networks. In their book, Egyptian Revolution 2.0: Political Blogging, Civic Engagement, and Citizen Journalism, Mohammad El Nawawy and Sahar Khamis show how the new media have become effective mobilization tools. By focusing on the Egyptian blogosphere, the authors shed light on the role played by political blogs in "paving the road for the Egyptian popular revolution of 2011" (p. 2).

Over the six chapters of the book, the authors contend that political blogs provide a venue for exercising and exemplifying acts of resistance and empowerment, and act as catalysts for political change by providing vital platforms for discussion and debate. To prove this argument, the authors adopt a qualitative research analysis, namely textual analysis and in-depth interviews, of five Egyptian political blogs to highlight their role in "encouraging civic engagement and public participation" (p. 3).

In the first two chapters, the authors set the conceptual foundation of the monograph and explore the literature on the potential democratizing effect of the internet with a special focus on political blogging and cyberactivism, in particular, in Egypt. They show "how political blogging can actually energize and revitalize civil society through boosting and encouraging the growth of active civic engagement and actual political participation" (p. 27). Discussing the transformative nature of the Arab media landscape, the authors explore how the new media encourages political change and paves the way for democratization. The authors, then, analyze selected threads from the five blogs under study. They classify the threads based on their intended function: mobilization (urging people to engage in a certain action or activity), documentation (documenting the atrocities and wrongdoings of the regime in power and its security apparatus), or deliberation (providing a platform for the useful exchange of ideas and brainstorming).

While chapter 4 focuses on human right's Violations--related threads, chapter 5 tackles specific threads exposing the corruption of Mubarak's regime. The authors establish the relationship between these threads, on one hand, and civic engagement, citizen journalism and a vibrant civil society, on the other hand. In the final chapter, the authors sum up the key findings of the book and stress the significance of the results for a better understanding of the phenomenon of "electronic democracy." Relying on "the embedded media perspective," the authors reiterate the argument that individual users are responsible for taking advantage of the capacities, and overcoming the constraints, provided by communication tools (p. 208). The authors raised one main question "[w]ill the Egyptian bloggers be able to play as an effective a role in building civil society in the "New Egypt" as they did in toppling a corrupt regime?" (p. 216). They, however, did not provide a clear-cut answer, expressing only their hope.

The book, without a doubt, fills a lacuna in the literature on the role of new media in enhancing civil society and, consequently, democratization. It offers a balanced perspective that stays away from "technological" or "societal" determinism. Nevertheless, the authors' tone appeared to overemphasize the bloggers' role. For example, the authors argued that "there is no question that all five [blogs] have strongly contributed to mobilizing the Egyptian public and enhancing the Egyptian youth's level of civic engagement" (p. 201). They also stressed that "blogs paved the way for the eruption of the revolution" (p. …

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