Blogging Bouazizi: The Role of Cyberactivists Before and After Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution

Matt Gordner

Abstract


This article examines the changing role of cyberactivists before and after the Jasmine Revolution through case studies of three prominent figures: Houssem Aoudi (Cogite, Wasaibi), Sami Ben Gharbia (Nawaat.org), and Haythem el Mekki (MosaiqueFM, Attessia TV). The main argument presented here is that the attainment of freedom of the Internet and the success of the revolt created new opportunities for formal political involvement for the cyberactivists as they transited from dissidents under the Ben Ali regime to citizen-participants of a nascent democratic order. A subsidiary argument is that a new generation of Tunisian leadership came to the fore of Tunisia’s private and public spheres to advance the stated aims of the revolution, including inter alia combating unemployment, securing civil liberties, stemming corruption, and the ever deepening of pro-democracy reforms.


Keywords


Tunisia; Democracy; Revolution; Activism; Social Movement Theory; Bouazizi

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17192/meta.2016.6.3797

Matt Gordner is a Tunisia-based doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto specializing in democratization and authoritarianism, civil society and associational life, social movements, and extremism in the Middle East and North Africa. Gordner is a Trudeau Scholar at the Trudeau Foundation, and the Founder and Director of the Peace by Piece Initiative, a Canadian not-for-profit organization dedicated to dialogue on sensitive issues of local and global scope. Earlier research for the present article was also supported by a University of Toronto Alumni Graduate Award of Excellence and a Ranjit Kumar Fellowship.