Billie Jeanne Brownlee

Project Summary

My doctoral research tracks the roots of the Syrian uprising, looking at the development of a new media literacy and the rise of civil society in the decade (2000-2010) that predated the uprising. Specifically, this research aims at filling the gaps of Western academic literature, which has been unable to predict the uprising, as the effect of an attitude that underestimated the degree of (in)tolerance of the population toward their government and minimized the organizational capacity and civil resistance of the people. Therefore this study tries to investigate into the causes that brought to the spark of the revolt in Syria, looking at a domain, that of new media and information technology development, which has been this far understated. This does not mean verifying whether technology diffusion causes democratization, but to understand when digital media become means of social mobilization, the way this occurs and the potentialities it contains. Studying the role of new media in Syria becomes the expression of a wider phenomenon which saw in the Arab Spring, the UK riots and the Occupy movement some of its demonstrations.