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The Use of the Internet by Social Movements in Morocco: Implications for Collective Action and Political Change


The Use of the Internet by Social Movements in Morocco: Implications for Collective Action and Political Change

Ben Moussa, Mohamed (2011) The Use of the Internet by Social Movements in Morocco: Implications for Collective Action and Political Change. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Ben_Moussa_PhD_F2011.pdf - Accepted Version


The thesis examines the use of the Internet by social movements in Morocco and the extent to which it has empowered them in various struggles against political and social injustices. More specifically, it explores whether the Internet has transformed the collective action repertoire and enhanced social movements’ capacity to challenge Morocco’s semi-authoritarian regime and erode the hegemonic social orders in the country. In so doing, the thesis addresses some key polemical issues and questions germane to the topic, mainly the dialectic between technological and social determinisms and agency, the role of technology in development, and collective action and democratic change in the context of Muslim-majority societies. The thesis uses a combination of methodological approaches to explore the structural, textual and contextual dimensions of the Internet’s implications and impact.
Through feature analysis, and framing analysis, the research studies 18 websites, collective blogs and wikis belonging to eight key Moroccan social movements. It equally draws on rich data derived from 37 semi-structured, in-depth interviews conducted with Moroccan social movement activists, journalists and international NGOs’ officials. It offers insights into the embeddedness of the Internet as a technology and medium, and into the interplay between activists’ and users’ practices and their social environment and physical world. Moreover, using a multidisciplinary conceptual framework, namely social movement theory, the social study of technology, alternative media studies, radical democracy theory and community informatics, the thesis examines the complex and multilayered interconnections between the Internet and the various social, economic and cultural processes shaping its appropriation and its potential for social change. It concludes that the Internet plays a significant role in enhancing Moroccan social movements’ collective action capabilities by favouring various forms of mobilization, and facilitating linkages between dispersed constituencies and translocal public spheres. The thesis argues, however, that the medium does not impact in any radical way the dominant political and social orders inasmuch as its implications and potential remain considerably limited by the various digital divides, and are mediated through the power relations characterizing society.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Ben Moussa, Mohamed
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:7 April 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Shade, Leslie and Buxton, William
Keywords:Internet, social movements, collective action, democracy, ICTs, Morocco, Arab world
ID Code:7689
Deposited On:22 Nov 2011 13:02
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:31
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