The limitations of structural theories of revolution : Egypt, scale, and Twitter as "History 2”

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2012-12

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Arnold, Timothy Jason

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Abstract

Through a qualitative analysis of messages posted on the micro-blogging application, Twitter, and qualitative research interviews with people from Egypt and the United States who were active on Twitter during the eighteen day Egyptian Revolution in 2011, this study considers why Dr. Theda Skocpol’s theory of revolution proffered in States and Social Revolutions (1979) does not work in the case of the Egyptian Revolution. Skocpol asserts that a weakening of the state vis-à-vis a dominant class within the state or other states is a necessary precondition for revolution. By examining Twitter as a mechanism through which on-the-ground activists in Egypt were able to circumvent repressive state structures and “jump-scales” to a transnational configuration of resistance, this thesis asserts that emergent technologies complicate Skocpol’s assertion that states must be weakened politically and financially prior to the execution of a successful social revolution.

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