The online public sphere matters. Digital communication technologies and platforms increasingly shape our politics, society, economics, and culture, worldwide—and the Middle East is no exception. According to NU-Q’s “Media Use in the Middle East” 2016 survey (funded by QNRF NPRP 7-1757-5-261), Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have some of the highest rates of internet penetration in the Middle East (between 93–100% of the national population) and also have some of the highest rates of social media use, including Twitter (42–55% of the national population in general, and 29–37% who report using it daily) (Dennis et al. 2016). But while the “Media Use” survey catalogues how users use Twitter and other social media platforms to communicate with others and find and share news and entertainment, it does not investigate how social media is used by political, social, and religious influencers to affect discourse in the online public sphere. Our grant proposal aims to fill this gap by researching the communication environment that is shaping—and is shaped by—these socioeconomic, cultural, and political arenas. Besides contributing to budding academic research in the fields of political science, communication, and digital media studies, our project will also make an immediate and powerful impact on the study of social media as a tool of diplomacy and disruption in modern international affairs. The recent Gulf diplomatic crisis, with the blockade of Qatar beginning on June 5, 2017, has increased the politicization of the online public sphere and made it all the more relevant to better understand both the content and the networks of the digital discourse in the region.
|Effective start/end date||8/15/18 → 8/14/20|
- Qatar National Research Fund (UREP22-067-5-021)
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