T530 African Society and Culture studies
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AbstractThis project seeks to trace the power of social media in serving as a virtual civil society in the Arab world, focusing on Egypt as a case study. This study aims to explore the role of social media in mobilising Egyptian activists across generations, and particularly in reaching out to people under the age of 35 who constitute around 50 per cent of the population. Studies preceding the 2011 uprising reported that young Egyptians were politically apathetic and were perceived as incapable of bringing about genuine political changes. Drawing on a range of methods and data collected from focus groups of young people under the age of 35, interviews with activists (across generations and gender), and via a descriptive web feature analysis, it is argued that online action has not been translated into offline activism. The role of trust in forming online networks is demonstrated, and how strong ties can play a pivotal role in spreading messages via social media sites. Activists relied on social media as a medium of visibility; for those who were not active in the political sphere, social media have been instrumental in raising their awareness about diverse political movements and educating them about the political process, after decades of political apathy under Mubarak’s regime. The most important benefit of using social media is the increased political knowledge and information available regarding the political situation in Egypt, despite many young people still confining their political activities to passive acts of ‘share’, ‘like’ or ‘post’ on social media. Activists have used social media to ensure visibility of their actions, not only nationally, but also regionally and internationally. There remains a strong need for offline organization and activism by using social media as a communication avenue, not necessarily as a catalyst for changing the political process. A number of problems associated with the use of such media in political deliberations concerning Egypt are highlighted, notwithstanding the positive effects of social media on the political socialisation of young Egyptians. One such problem is the lack of sustainability in online campaigns which should ideally convert into offline collective action. It can be argued that a sustainable civil society and a truly diverse public sphere rests on more sustainable, offline action, which can indeed bring about significant changes in the Egyptian political sphere.
CitationSharbatly, A. (2014) 'Social media: a new virtual civil society in Egypt?' PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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Understanding the impact of Greek and Pakistani community schools on the development of ethnic minority young persons’ cultural and academic identitiesProkopiou, Evangelia (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2007)This study investigates the processes through which attendance at a community school affects the development of cultural and academic identities of Greek/Greek-Cypriot and Pakistani ethnic minority young people who live in the United Kingdom. The development of cultural and academic identities by community school students is a relatively underesearched and undertheorized area. The theoretical framework of this study draws on developments in cultural developmental theory (Valsiner, 2000a) and the dialogical self theory (Hermans, 2001 a) to understand the cultural and dialogical nature of the processes through which ethnic minority young people develop their identities in community schools. Both theories are influenced by dynamic perspectives on development and have tried to explain psychological phenomena in relation to the sociocultural context. Episodic interviews, drawings and group work were the tools for data collection and multiple perspectives (students', parents' and teachers') were investigated. This small-scale research took place in a Greek and a Pakistani community school. The pupils, both girls and boys, were adolescents aged 13 to 18 years. The findings suggest that the young people in both groups were moving towards multiple, hybrid identities through a dialogical negotiation of aspects of differences! similarities and belonging within their majority and minority communities as well as living in a multicultural society. This negotiation resulted in a multivoiced hybrid identity which emerged through a constant positioning and re-positioning within their communities and school contexts. For the participants in the Pakistani school this negotiation was a struggle shaped by issues of racism and religious discrimination. In this context, the Pakistani school mainly aimed to increase self-confidence and strengthen the students' sense of minority cultural identity, especially the religious aspect of it, whereas the Greek school mainly aimed to preserve the community's cultural identity which was considered to be threatened by assimilation. In both community schools, a strong academic identity was endorsed which had a double function -to foster the acquisition of both knowledge and skills relevant to community education and those relevant to mainstream and higher education. This study demonstrated the value of examining community schools within contrasting communities, and its findings have implications for Psychology and Education.
The role and significance of street capital in the social field of the violent youth gang in LambethHarding, Simon K. (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2012-04)Much recent UK gang research has failed to adequately answer: do gangs exist and if so, are they organised? internal gang dynamics, criminal behaviours and motivations for joining remain largely unexplored; as does the upsurge in violent crime in gang-affected areas of south London. This research set out to answer these questions by investigating gangs in Lambeth, their activities and the daily experiences of those affiliated to them. The study begins by profiling the case study area, currently prevalent street gangs and links to violent crime. The investigation then examines in detail inter-gang and intragang dynamics and community relationships. A further objective is to establish whether, and if so to what extent, gangs were expanding and becoming more deeply embedded in the neighbourhood. This work situates contemporary UK gang research within the literary arc of classic and contemporary US gang research, from Chicago School to Hagedorn. Current UK studies are categorised into three distinct arguments, then critiqued from a Left Realist perspective. Addressing the question, how do we explain an increase in gang related violence?, the work establishes the gang as a social arena (field) of competition where actors struggle for distinction. But what are the characteristics and boundaries of this social -Field? What motivates young people to enter it, and how do you succeed within it? How significant are personal relationships and networks? What is the role of social capital and how do you become a competent actor in this field? These issues are explored using the theoretical perspectives of social field analysis and habitus from Bourdieu alongside various elements of social capital theory. An inductive ethnometholdogy was adopted. The paper presents findings from 30 qualitative interviews of residents, professionals and gang -affiliated young people in Lambeth. The ethical challenges of gang research, such as access and anonymity are addressed. The findings support the proposition that gangs in south London exist, are active and internally organised into three structural tiers. Success within the field is determined by building and maintaining Street Capital -a tradable asset. To acquire this, members strategise by employing tested techniques from the Gang Repertoire, derived from the habitus. Youngers and Olders employ different Repertoires. All actors within the social field are subject to sanctions with new arrivals at increased risk. The field is highly gendered and girls are central to the gang strategising using information and the gang Network. Importantly the findings support the argument that gangs in Lambeth are evolving and becoming more embedded. Increased gang related violence is an outcome of new dynamics in social field, including the imperative to acquire Street Capital and the role of new technology. Increased tensions and violence have cumulative stressful impacts for young people. To address this, they increasingly risk manage their lives through self exclusion or a fatalistic immersion in the social field.
Media reporting of war crimes trials and civil society responses in post-conflict Sierra LeoneBinneh-Kamara, Abou (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2015-01)This study, which seeks to contribute to the shared-body of knowledge on media and war crimes jurisprudence, gauges the impact of the media’s coverage of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) and Charles Taylor trials conducted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) on the functionality of civil society organizations (CSOs) in promoting transitional (post-conflict) justice and democratic legitimacy in Sierra Leone. The media’s impact is gauged by contextualizing the stimulus-response paradigm in the behavioral sciences. Thus, media contents are rationalized as stimuli and the perceptions of CSOs’ representatives on the media’s coverage of the trials are deemed to be their responses. The study adopts contents (framing) and discourse analyses and semi-structured interviews to analyse the publications of the selected media (For Di People, Standard Times and Awoko) in Sierra Leone. The responses to such contents are theoretically explained with the aid of the structured interpretative and post-modernistic response approaches to media contents. And, methodologically, CSOs’ representatives’ responses to the media’s contents are elicited by ethnographic surveys (group discussions) conducted across the country. The findings from the contents and discourse analyses, semi-structured interviews and ethnographic surveys are triangulated to establish how the media’s coverage of the two trials impacted CSOs’ representatives’ perceptions on post-conflict justice and democratic legitimacy in Sierra Leone. To test the validity and reliability of the findings from the ethnographic surveys, four hundred (400) questionnaires, one hundred (100) for each of the four regions (East, South, North and Western Area) of Sierra Leone, were administered to barristers, civil/public servants, civil society activists, media practitioners, students etc. The findings, which reflected the perceptions of people from large swathe of opinions in Sierra Leone, appeared to have dovetailed with those of the CSOs’ representatives across the country. The study established that the media’s coverage of the CDF trial appeared to have been tainted with ethno-regional prejudices, and seemed to be ‘a continuation of war by other means’. However, the focus groups perceived the media reporting as having a positive effect on the pursuit of post-conflict justice, good governance and democratic accountability in Sierra Leone. The coverage of the Charles Taylor trial appeared to have been devoid of ethno-regional prejudices, but, in the view of the CSOs, seemed to have been coloured by lenses of patriotism and nationalism.