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11 Rev. Eur. Stud. 1 (2019)
Social Media and Its Impact on Arab Youth Identity

handle is hein.journals/rveurost11 and id is 1 raw text is: 

                                                                     Review of European Studies; Vol. 11, No. 1; 2019
                                                                             ISSN 1918-7173   E-ISSN 1918-7181
                                                                Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education

                 Social Media and Its Impact on Arab Youth Identity

                                              Maha  Ali Alshoaibi
Correspondence:  Maha  Ali  Alshoaibi, Communication  Department,  Faculty of Communication,   King  Abdulaziz
University, 21589 P.O. Box 80200 Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Received: November  7, 2018   Accepted: December  6, 2018   Online Published: December 26, 2018
doi: 10.5539/res.vl nip 1      URL: https://doi.org/10.5539/res.vl1nlp  l

Through  the analysis of influences from social networking sites surrounding the revolts of the Arab Spring, this paper
seeks to evaluate about how the identity of Middle Eastern youth has been shaped by social media, and what future impact
it could have on Middle Eastern social and political spheres. This paper relies on two key theories of the development of
identity and self-perception - Social Cognitive Theory by Albert Bandura (1986) and Social Comparison theory by
Festinger (1954). The paper shall try to make some unique contribution towards understanding the role that social media
plays in transforming Arab youth identity, and its socio-political impact.
Keywords:  social media, Arab youth, Arab spring, identity, social cognition, social comparison
1. Background  and Objectives of Study
The use of social media amongst  the youth has become  a global phenomenon. With  the people of the Middle-east
operating as one of the most rapid adopters of social media and social networking sites, the functions and subsequent
analysis these sites play hold critical influence in both social developments and political revolutions. It has been noted by
scholars that the youth of the region played the most significant role in the Arab Spring revolutions (Anderson, 2011). It is
evident that social media usage has been most swiftly and widely adopted by the same segment of the Arab society
(Mourtada &  Salem, 2012). Existing literature surrounding the influence of social media throughout the Middle-east has
been limited to the role it played in enabling coordination of protests and disseminating news to the international
community. This paper seeks to evaluate the influence that these sites may have had on the revolts that have been a part of
the Arab Spring. In addition, the question of social media's role and significance in the revolution naturally arises; this
paper will seek to analyze what impact it could have on the Middle-eastern social and political spheres in the future.
However, how  the identity of the youth, the major adopters of the Social Networking Services (SNS), has been shaped by
such media is an area that this paper would focus on more.
The influence of social media on 'youth identity' in the Middle-east is a fairly unexplored topic. Middle-eastern youth are
different, almost unique, in their cultural, religious and societal make up. Currently literature exists surrounding the
broader impact of media  on youth but is primarily focused around Western nations encompassing starkly different
population dynamics. While youth in the Western countries have been born and raised in nations that are governed by
democratic administrations, Arab youth has lived under monarchies and dictatorial regimes. The Western countries have
more  liberalized societies when compared to communities in the Arab region (DeLong-Bas, 2014). Concepts such as
freedom of speech and gender equality are fairly new in the Middle-eastern region while have a long-standing tradition in
the West. As  such, the Arab  youth should, ideally, have been acclimatized to non-democratic governments  and
conservative society (Fitouti, 2011). However, the Arab Spring revolutions brought to the forefront a radical shift in the
preferences, expectations and demands of the Arab youth, which, in turn, reveals a shift in youth identity.
It is noteworthy that the widespread adoption of social media occurred around the same period as the vociferous
discontent towards governments shown by the Arab youth. As such, the question arises; did social media play a role in
altering Arab youth identity, thereby having a greater influence on the Arab Spring revolutions than the mere medium of
communication  it has been portrayed to be by existing research? This paper seeks to offer insight into this inquiry through
the combined analysis of social media impacts on Arab youth identity and its corresponding socio-political impacts.
In order to evaluate the influence of social media on Arab youth identity, this paper relies on two key theories of the
development  of identity and self-perception. The Social Cognitive Theory by Albert Bandura (1986) and the Social
Comparison  theory  by Festinger (1954) have  been used  extensively to analyze the impact of mass  media  and
communications  on consumers. Also, there are studies that specifically concentrate on the effects of social media on its
users, employing each of the two theories under consideration. However, the unique aspect of Arab youth identity and its
relationship to social media is yet to be investigated through the lens of these theories. Also included in this paper are


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