Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First

Gadi Wolfsfeld*, Elad Segev, Tamir Sheafer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

380 Scopus citations


The goal of this article is to place the role that social media plays in collective action within a more general theoretical structure, using the events of the Arab Spring as a case study. The article presents two broad theoretical principles. The first is that one cannot understand the role of social media in collective action without first taking into account the political environment in which they operate. The second principle states that a significant increase in the use of the new media is much more likely to follow a significant amount of protest activity than to precede it. The study examines these two principles using political, media, and protest data from twenty Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority. The findings provide strong support for the validity of the claims.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)115-137
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Arab Spring
  • PMP principle
  • new media
  • protest


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