The Potential of Political Changes in the Information Age: The Political Challenges Sphere of Saudi Arabia through Citizen Activism

The Potential of Political Changes in the Information Age: The Political Challenges Sphere of Saudi Arabia through Citizen Activism

Anas Alahmed (Indiana University – Bloomington, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8614-4.ch105
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Abstract

In non-democratic societies new media social networks have played a significant role in changing political and social positions, not necessarily through real life but, instead, through cyber life. This chapter examines how Saudi activists challenge the political authority and how Saudi citizens took advantage of publicity by demanding political change. All of this happened due to social networks and new media, which allowed citizens to mobilize information for the sake of transparency. This was a new phenomenon in Saudi Arabia. The current young generation of Saudis, who use the Internet and social networking sites, played a significant role in the public sphere by making use of the space available to them within cyberspace. This chapter discusses the potential of political information to flourish in Saudi Arabia. It examines how and why citizen activism in Saudi Arabia can be effective. The chapter also shows that social networking activities have the power to change political decisions and society.
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New Media And New Politics

Today’s Saudi Arabian society, with the emergence of the cyberspace environment, has experienced a new form of social practice and political activities. It has applied a new phase of movement and civil society that did not previously exist. The new space through new media social networks allows citizens to aggregate, to elaborate, and discuss social, economic and even political situations in what amounts to a public space. Citizens have more confidence to talk about their demands and their problems. Citizens do not need the mainstream media in order to gain information, and they do not need to follow the news to express themselves; they have established their own forum of dialogue. They share news and even create it. Citizens find new spaces where they may share information, and these spaces are not under government control. But before discussing the actual reform events by examining the two case studies, it is important to look at the situation in Saudi Arabia and how civil society and social movements work through cyberspace.

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