GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

 
AUTHOR NAME
 
Family Name:
Sedghi
 
First Name:
Hamideh
 
ABSTRACT OF PAPER
 
Title of Paper:
SOCIAL MEDIA AND POLITICS IN IRAN
 
Paper Proposal Text :
SOCIAL MEDIA AND POLITICS IN IRAN
An Abstract Proposal for GRM
HAMIDEH SEDGHI, PH.D.
Columbia University
2014

The small but growing literature on social media in the Middle East highlights the use of a range of digital technologies, in particular Facebook,Twitter and the Internet by both the state and non-state actors. Studies underline the importance of the Internet as an agent of social change affecting the cultural and political landscapes and connecting the users to the world beyond the borders. They celebrate these new developments as an emerging sphere of public space, while they express concern over the state’s attempts in managing and curtailing cyberspace activities. Yet a few oversimplify the role of the social media including the Internet and the Twitter in augmenting societal transformation.

This paper explores the geopolitical environment of technology in Iran, focusing on the politics of social media and the Internet. In today’s Iran, globalization devices such as the Internet, portable cell phones and cameras, as well as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offer a wide variety of choices to the users from different socio-economic backgrounds. Iran was the second country (after Israel) in the Middle East to gain access to the Internet. Iran’s telecommunications industry indicated that the number of Internet users had reached above 23 million in 2009. Internet users include educated women and men who are cosmopolitan and have a global outlook. They use the Internet for a variety of purposes, not only for scientific and cultural research from international sources and social mobilization, but also for critical discussions that range from politics to sex, religion and democracy, patriarchy and gender inequality, and many more.

Among the many different groups of Iranian users, women have been particularly savvy in using new technologies to highlight their concerns and connect locally and internationally. With recent developments in digital mass media technologies, when possible, women have been able to use social networks to foster their “strategic gender interests” or the issues that are fundamental to the advancement of their philosophy of gender equality and violent norms and practices. Although the impact of the growing users on social change is difficult to ascertain with certainty, it is probable that this new form of communication is slowly offering new ways of thinking, interacting, and communicating politically.

Exploring the use of social media in Iran, this project asks: is social media something noble for the expression of public views, their interactions, and the articulation of their interests locally and internationally? What are there are limits and if so, how and to what extend do Internet users bypass authorities to promote their interests and affect change?

This paper will thus bridge the gap between studies of social media and its users, with a particular attention to the use of the Internet by women in Iran. It will utilize primary materials gathered from field research, interviews, oral history collections, weblogs, email messages from various users, as well as secondary sources.



 
 
 

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