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Abstract

This essay analyzes the engagement of Arab feminist activisms online, most notably during the citizen revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and, specifically, women’s use of online social networking to aid social change. Building on research examining how Arab activists and activist organizations, including feminist organizations, mobilize, produce knowledge, and develop and share resources online and, in particular, drawing from research on Arab activisms and social media this study aims to understand how online activist discourses function, both locally and globally. To do so, we utilize a schema of information production and consumption devised to analyze activist engagement and citizen journalism, particularly the negotiation of communication messages by various agents through multiple stages of transmission and dissemination (Newsom, Lengel, & Cassara, C, 2011). We look at the ideal of local knowledge as it is transformed into global knowledge, and how the messages are open to manipulation and bias through the various stages of mediation and gatekeeping cited in the framework. Through the application of this framework, we can see how gendered messages are constructed, essentialized, reconstructed, and made invisible by the consumer media system.

Note on the Author

Victoria A. Newsom is Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Social Sciences and Humanities Division, Olympic College. Lara Lengel is Professor, Department of Communication, School of Media and Communication, Bowling Green State University.

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