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Ways in which the internet has changed political interactions globally

Introduction

The internet has transformed the way political interactions are carried out. Various political actors in different countries have discovered ingenious ways of using the internet as a tool of communication. In most cases, they use the social media to reach out to supporters, to mobilize them, and to influence them to take certain actions. For example, during the “Arab Spring”, a wave of revolutions that spread across the Middle East two years ago, Facebook, a social media platform, was a crucial platform for mobilizing supporters and organizing demonstration across the country. The aim of this paper is discuss the various ways in which political interactions have changed the way political interactions are carried out. Examples of this phenomenon are derived from the political changes that are taking place in different parts of the world.

The internet as a tool of communicating political change around the world

            During the past decade, internet technologies have been embraced in the Middle East and indeed the rest of the world (Aouragh 31). However, the case of the Middle East is unique because of the ways in which dictatorial regimes attempt to control the flow of information via the internet. They fear that such flow of information will heighten a sense of political consciousness among dissidents, leading to revolutions. This is indeed what happened in 2011 when the Arab Spring culminated in a series of uprisings and revolutions in many Arab countries, including Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Syria.

The increase in the use of the internet in the Middle East came at a time when sweeping changes in internet technologies continue to take place around the world. Financial markets have become interconnected and currencies are being traded around the clock. Internet-enabled e-commerce continues to thrive even in those countries with strict financial regulations. In Middle East, these changes have translated into political empowerment, whereby political actors opposed to deeply entrenched regimes have suddenly succeeded in amassing the human and financial resources necessary to trigger calls for a revolution  (Aouragh 31). In Mexico, a dissident group by the name Zapatistas has in recent years been relying on the internet to wage a successful campaign the country’s government (Aouragh 31). By coordinating its activities via the internet, the group was able to attract support from various international actors, thereby constraining the response of the Mexican government.

The internet has led to the emergence of new and sometimes surprising ways of impacting political action. This is mainly because it has provided dissidents with a new avenue of altering the political status quo. This has triggered a shift in the balance of power between nation-states and political dissidents. This shift has tended to favor the latter group, as demonstrated in the examples of the Arab Spring in the Middle East and Zapatistas in Mexico.

In the Middle East, numerous non-state dissident actors have for a long time lacked an avenue to express their political views. This was largely because of patronage by state actors, who dominated all realms of socio-economic and political influence. This political control was entrenched in authoritarian polities and monarchical kingdoms. In these political structures, citizens lacked a platform to express opposition through the ballot. No formal outlets existed for citizens to express their dissatisfaction with the policies being undertaken by the authorities. To express their views, opposition activists were compelled by circumstances to use extra-legal means to advocate for change. With the advent of internet technologies, all this has changed. Opposition groups are able to share sentiments, coordinate rallies, demonstrations, and even revolutions that easily spread from one country to the other.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the internet continues to change the way political interactions are carried out. It has altered the balance of power between the state and political dissidents to the advantage of the latter. It provides citizens who oppose the policies of the government an unconventional platform of expressing their view and mobilizing support. The case of the Arab Spring in the Middle East demonstrates the power of the internet and social media in altering the dynamics of interactions between the established political class and political dissidents.

 

Works Cited

Aouragh, Miriyam. “Social Media, Mediation and the Arab Revolutions.” Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, 10.2 (2012): 24-57.

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