Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

William Boone, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Hashim Gibrill, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

F.S.J. Ledgister, Ph.D.

Abstract

This dissertation assesses the role of social media and its effects on the Arab Spring. The research will be guided by two questions: Could the use of American Dot.com social networking websites (e.g. Facebook, Google, Twitter, and YouTube) by Tunisians and Egyptians during the Arab Spring, to overthrow their governments, be characterized as a violation of Tunisia’s and Egypt’s sovereignty (cyber-sovereignty)? Secondly, what was the significance of the abovementioned social networking websites during the Arab Spring?

The first question will be examined by using Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Theory; the problem, policy, and political streams have to converge simultaneously in order to create a window of opportunity to enact change. For this to occur, it is the responsibility of the policy entrepreneur to combine the three streams. The policy entrepreneur is an individual(s) who are tasked with the responsibility of integrating the three streams. During the Arab Spring, social media served as a mechanism for citizens to bypass government censorship to chronicle and narrate events as they occurred. As a result, I assert that it was the use of social media in this manner by the policy entrepreneurs that violated the sovereignty of both Tunisia and Egypt.

The second question will be analyzed by administering questionnaires and reviewing tertiary sources to assess the significance of the abovementioned social networking websites during the Arab Spring. By examining the two research questions together, the conclusion of this analysis will potentially provide the basis for political cooperation towards an international cyber-sovereignty doctrine. The Arab Spring was far greater than Tunisia and Egypt. However, I felt it was of the utmost importance to focus on the origin of the Arab Spring, as well as the significance in which the role of social media became instrumental. Analyzing the role of social media, the transformation of power, and cyber-sovereignty in both countries through four (individual, state, organizational, and international) layers of analysis will help to assess the role of social media during the Arab Spring and to generate layers of protection to mitigate its influence.