Communication Tools and Political Dissidents – Past and Present

Since the beginning of time, the desire to form and live within communities has been a natural instinct and a necessity for humans to seek their self-interests. In recent history, more and more people; complete strangers at times with geographical constraints, have been enabled to establish communities and mobilize in ways that previously could only be achieved through institutions with traditional organizational structures (Shirky, 2008).

Over time, communication methods as they developed empowered people with the tools to do things together, unite towards a common goal, support group conversation, and encourage spontaneous group action in ways that have impacted societies regardless of the absence of traditional theories which usually govern these sorts of behaviors (Bimber, Flangagin & Stohl, 2005).  

The birth and formation of these new types of groups resulted in shifting group dynamics and people’s reactions in multiple areas, where the political arena was no exception. Beginning with anti-Vietnam war movements in the United States from 1955 -1975, where the war was visually shown on television for the first time and depictions of it were accessed by the public, and ending with the 2009-2010 Iranian “Green Revolution”, and the most recent 2010-2011 series of political uprisings in North Africa (Tunisia, Libya, Egypt) and Syria, communication methods such as TVs, radios, and later on digital media including Facebook, Twitter, and even mobile devices have proved effective in helping political dissidents organize their movements and may have played a key role in influencing the outcome of some of the major political events taking place at the time (Wilson Quarterly, 2011).

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Bimber, B., Flanagin, A. J., & Stohl, C. (2005). Reconceptualizing collective action in the contemporary media environment. Communication Theory

Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. New York: Penguin Group. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Tweeting Toward Freedom?. (2011). Wilson Quarterly, 35(2), 64-66. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.


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