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Social Media and Contentious Politics: Tunisia 2010-2013 Open Access

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How do social media contribute to groups engaged in contentious politics within a domestic environment? While many have examined the influence of social media on the Arab revolutions of 2010-2011 from an international perspective, there are fewer studies examining the impact of social media within a national environment after these events. Through interviews with a group of 40 Tunisians, many of them active in contentious politics from 2010-2013, this research identifies what sources initially informed the group members of a movement as well as the sources that ultimately pushed them to become active. While information gleaned via social media certainly played a role in the decisions of many interviewees to join the movements examined in this research - unsurprising, given the high rates of internet use within the group - social media were often cited as less trustworthy than other sources and were more likely to inform the respondents of a movement's existence than to push them to act. While these findings are not unexpected, they do require that future efforts examining the role of social media in contentious politics within a country's borders differentiate how different types of sources are viewed by potential supporters and how they might contribute to mobilization in different ways.

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