Culture, Lifestyle and the Information Revolution in the Middle East and Muslim World

Document Type: Original article


Professor, Department of Anthropology, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.


For over two decades, the ‘information revolution’ in the Middle
East has been framed overwhelmingly in terms of media, more of it,
and in comparisons to mass media – from the advent of any-to-any
communication to ad hoc conceptualizations such as ‘crowd-sourcing’ or
‘citizen journalism’ – that register the multiplication of voices, channels
and eroding boundaries in spheres of communication. The record has
expanded more than conceptualizations of its sociologies in media and
communications studies. It’s time for other questions that elicit additional
and more basic features of Internet practices from choices that shape
individual repertoires and participation to continuities between users
and producers to how actual practices scale up, which actually link micro
and macro processes. To elicit these broader sociologies, and move
beyond the limited social physics of ‘impact’ of the Internet on culture and
lifestyles, I draw on the related sociologies of reference group and network
theory, on Science-Technology-Society studies and sociolinguistics to
bring disruption of existing institutions, on the one hand, and cooptation
by them, on the other, into more unified theory of the play of information
revolution in culture and lifestyles on the Internet.


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