Introduction: The Mobilizing Potential of Communication Networks in Central Asia Open Access Deposited
What is the mobilizing and meaning-making potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in non-democratic regimes? This ques- tion has been studied globally, with the Arab Spring heightening the urgency and the stakes for social science theories of digital mobilization. In the semi- authoritarian regimes of Central Asia, where access to the internet has risen dramatically in the last decade, various online platforms have served as stages for state-sponsored identity construction and grassroots debates about memory and belonging. The central aim of this special issue is to advance the region-specific debate about the mobilizing potential of ICTs through detailed case studies and thick descriptions of how these technologies are used by state and non-state actors alike. In this introductory article, the editorial team provides a brief analysis of the existing social science literature on the internet’s role in state–society relations in Central Asia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This essay has two goals: to define the scope of the special issue and to lay out the three key contribu- tions/themes that emerged from the collection of papers in this special issue.
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