Teaching About Social
Networking and Political
Activism
Bill Tinkler
[email protected]
Andrew Conneen
[email protected]
www.citizenu.org
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Why teach Mideast revolutions?
Understanding concepts—
• Legitimacy; democratization.
• Civil society; forms of political participation.
• Coup d’etat v. revolution.
Understanding countries—
• Revolution in Iran.
• Fall of the Soviet Union.
• Military in Nigeria.
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Mohamed Bouazizi
March 29, 1984 – January 4, 2011
How did this poor fruit vendor
influence uprisings in Tunisia,
Egypt and the rest of the Mideast?
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• What difference has the social network made in Mideast uprisings?
•4 What do you think political scientists will say in 10 years?
Leaderless Revolutions
“The revolution was
successful because
it had no leaders,
only coordinators of
bottom-up energy. Its
use of social media
was brilliantly
conceived to meld
online organizing
with offline action,
not supplant it.”
Morley Winograd and
Michael D. Hais are fellows
of NDN and the New Policy
Institute
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Egyptian Revolution
on Twitter
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“People make revolutions, not technology.”
Amy Goodman (author of Breaking the Sound Barrier)
“What has occurred that is so threatening to
despots is the availability to reach so many
people so quickly and to permeate borders, to
permeate physical things that were impenetrable,
by airways….”
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Carl Bernstein
“Empire: Information Wars”
AlJazeera.net
March 28, 2011
http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/empire/2011/02/20112
8144711422264.html#
Mark Zuckerberg
G8—France, May 2011
“You know, my own opinion is that it would be extremely
arrogant for any specific technology company to claim any
meaningful roles in those (revolutions.) I think Facebook was
neither necessary or sufficient for either of those things to
happen. And the thing that was both necessary and sufficient
was a population of people who felt very strongly that change
needed to happen.”
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The Political Power of Social Media
by Clay Shirky Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2011
Two approaches to internet freedom
Instrumental—
• Exaggerates role of
broadcasts and computers.
• Under emphasizes private
conversations and cell phones.
Environmental—
• Using social media to build civil
society and the public sphere.
• Democratization follows a
strengthened civil society.
Two critiques of social media’s role in politics
• Malcolm Gladwell’s
“slacktivism” argument.
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• Ability of authoritarian
governments to suppress dissent.
The Arab Spring
Based on what you know and what we have
discussed, what factors insured a
successful first wave of Mideast uprisings?
[talk to a neighbor]
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Impact of Social Media and
Mideast Upheavals
Reference: “This is Just the Start,”
Thomas Friedman, NYT, March 1, 2011
Describe 3 of the
factors that Friedman
attributes to the mass
revolt in Egypt.
Explain how Friedman’s
factors connect the
concepts of globalization
and democratization.
Explain how Friedman redefines
the social network and its influence
on the “Arab Spring” movements.
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What do we want students to learn from
these recent political uprisings in the
Mideast, and how do we know that
students are learning what we teach?
Formative Assessment—
N
is for Needs
F
is for Feedback
C
is for Collaboration/confidence
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Why has the “Arab Spring” stalled
in other countries?
• Turn to a neighbor and collectively
consider the uprisings in either
Libya, Bahrain, or Syria.
• What factor(s) have made a
difference in the popular uprising in
the nation you chose?
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Formative Assessments
a. Identify the object that the
person is shooting from
the slingshot in this
cartoon.
b. Explain the message that
the artist is trying to
communicate in this
cartoon.
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Formative Assessments
a. Explain the cartoonist’s
perspective about the
contrast between
democratization in Egypt
and Iran.
b. Describe two methods
used by the Iranian
government that fit the
artist’s depiction of Iran’s
response to the 2011
democratization
movement in the Middle
East.
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Formative Assessments
a. Explain the
cartoonist’s
perspective about the
role of social
networking in the Arab
Spring of 2011 as
contrasted with the
Syrian response to
democratization
efforts.
b. Describe two methods used by authoritarian
governments looking to minimize the impact of social
networking on democratization movements.
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Formative Assessments
a. Explain the
cartoonist’s
perspective about the
difference between
deposing an
authoritarian leader as
contrasted with
establishing a true
democracy.
b. Describe two changes that former authoritarian
governments can make to establish a true democracy.
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A Bigger Question: What drives
democratization uprisings today?
Comparative Government and Politics
Course Description Reference:
V. Political and Economic change
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From Democracy to Dictatorship
by Gene Sharp
“(F)or the world’s despots, his ideas can be fatal.”
New York Times, Feb. 16,
2011
--Founded the Albert Einstein Institution in 1983
--First published FDTD (1993) in Thailand where
possession included a 7-year prison term.
-- Published in Indonesia and Serbia in the late 1990s.
-- Six translations from 1993 and 2002.
-- 22 translations from 2003-2008.
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Weakness of Dictatorships
by Gene Sharp
“Despite the appearances of strength, all
dictatorships have weaknesses.”
The system may become
routine in its operation,
less able to adjust quickly
to new situations.
The ideology may erode,
and myths and symbols of
the system may become
unstable.
Deteriorating efficiency and competency of the
bureaucracy or excessive controls and regulations, may
make the system’s policies and operation ineffective.
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Weakness of Dictatorships
by Gene Sharp
“Despite the appearances of strength, all
dictatorships have weaknesses.”
Intellectuals and
students may become
restless in response to
conditions, restrictions,
doctrinalism, and
repression.
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Sections of the police or
military forces may act
to achieve their own
objectives, even against
the will of the
established dictators,
including by coup d’etat.
Political Defiance
by Gene Sharp
“(M)ilitary
resistance against
dictatorships does
not strike them
where they are
weakest, but
rather where they
are strongest.”
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Political Defiance
by Gene Sharp
“(G)overnments can
rule only as long as
they receive
replenishment of the
needed sources of
their power from the
cooperation,
submission, and
obedience of the
population and the
institutions of the
society.”
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“Political defiance,
unlike violence, is
uniquely suited to
severing those
sources of power.”
• Protest
• Persuasion
• Noncooperation
• Intervention
Democratizing effects of
political defiance
by Gene Sharp
• Growth of a
population’s
confidence to
resist violent
repression.
• Population learns to
assert the practice of
democratic freedoms
like speech, press
and assembly.
• Contributes to the
renewal and growth
of civil society.
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Formative Assessments
1. Use historical examples to describe how three of Gene
Sharp’s “Weakness of Dictatorships” have been evident in
any of the AP Comparative Government and Politics core
countries.
2. Use contemporary examples to describe how three of Gene
Sharp’s “Weakness of Dictatorships” have been evident in
any of the AP Comparative Government and Politics core
countries.
3. Describe three acts of political defiance that have been used
to try to weaken authoritarian rule in an AP Comparative
Government and Politics core country.
4. Explain how each of these acts of political defiance could
contribute to democratization in that AP Comparative
Government and Politics core country.
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Formative Assessments
1. Brainstorm 10 examples of political defiance.
Identify how many of these appear on Sharp’s list
of “Methods of nonviolent action.”
2. Categorize your list of 10 acts of political
defiance according to Sharp’s 4 categories of:
protest, persuasion, noncooperation, and
intervention.
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3. Explain which of these acts of political defiance
you think would be most effective at weakening
an example of authoritarian rule in an AP
Comparative Government and Politics core
country.
Formative Assessments
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1. Find an article that analyzes a country in which widespread
political violence was used to try to weaken authoritarian
rule during the “Arab Spring—2011.”
2. Find an article that analyzes a country in which nonviolent
political defiance was the primary method used to try to
weaken authoritarian rule during the “Arab Spring—2011.”
3. Compare and contrast efforts to weaken authoritarian rule in
the two countries that each article addresses.
4. Compare and contrast democratization efforts in the two
countries that each article addresses.
5. Explain how your findings might compare or contrast with
Gene Sharp’s thesis about the role of political defiance in
weakening authoritarian rule.
The next revolution
will be __________!
Bill Tinkler
[email protected]
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Andrew Conneen
[email protected]
www.citizenu.org