Home Institution

Washington and Lee University

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

Jordan: Modernization and Social Change

Abstract

What can be said in 140 characters or less? During what has been dubbed the “Arab Spring”, Twitter has been heralded as the catalyst that sparked revolutions. Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and others have utilized this microblogging site to express opinions, share links, and inform the world what is happening. In the past few months, the number of Jordanians on Twitter has risen sharply. During the course of my research, I aimed to discover if there were “elite users”, people whose opinions had more weight or significance in this dialogue as the Twitter community tends to develop with a distinct hierarchy of leaders and followers. Interviews combined with focus groups were used to first gain a general impression of the current dialogue then to obtain an in-depth, nuanced view. My findings indicate in Jordan, the newness of the medium is hindering the community on Twitter that is actively seeking change through a tweet dialogue. Jordan does not have a precedent or diversified base to build upon for Twitter to play a tangible role in reformation at this current time. In addition, Jordanian college-aged students whom many herald as the drivers of social change are not using Twitter. The platform of Twitter users needs to expand to include more of the population for a fruitful discussion of social change to incur. While 140 characters themselves cannot reform a society, those proclaiming the message can take strides.

Disciplines

Communication Technology and New Media | Critical and Cultural Studies | International and Intercultural Communication | Social Influence and Political Communication