Integration v. Polarization Amongst Social Media Users: Perspectives through Social Capital Theory on The Recent Egyptian Political Landscape

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

External departments

  • University of Essex
  • American University in Cairo
  • Brunel University London

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-473
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Volume145
Early online date13 Feb 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There has been a growing debate about the extent to which social media has influenced the Arab World's recent revolutions described as the “Arab Spring”. Despite difference in views concerning this issue, the role that social media played in enacting socio-political change is undeniable, a matter which attracted the interest of academia. Here, the power of social media in widening and strengthening relationships renovated and reinforced the concept of “social capital”, which could lead to integration or acculturation among affected societies. Underpinned by a social capital theory and the acculturation process, this commentary article adopts a critical approach and draws on historical events from the 2011 Egyptian revolution and beyond. We claim that, social media lead to social capital creation and integration when some fundamental associated factors exist namely: the bonding, bridging and linking factors. Social media adoption lead to political integration when these factors existed during the Egyptian revolution and lead to polarisation when there was no contextual triggering factor before the revolution and no access to resources after the revolution. We provide some insightful perspectives on the role of social media in social-political change.