Effect of Social Work on Democratization Processes in the Countries Living under Authoritarian Rule
Social media sites have become an integral part of modern life. Statistics collected in different countries eloquently speaks in favor of this statement. For example, in the United States, 68% of adult Americans are active Facebook users (Greenwood, Perrin & Duggan). LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites are also popular among 21% to 28% of adult Americans (Greenwood, Perrin & Duggan). Similar situation is noticeable in developing countries where social networks are gaining momentum (Abbassi). For example, the Arab world has 40 to 45 million of active internet users, the majority of which are subscribed to one or several social networking sites. Taking into consideration the rapidly growing popularity of networking platforms, experts seek to understand whether social media can become an instrument of political influence. The Arab Spring events suggest that social media networking plays not the least role in mobilizing of human resources for mass protests (Lazar; Unwin; West). It is, thus, hypothesized that social networking sites can act as a tool for democratic processes in the countries that live under authoritarian rule. This assumption has been formed into the following research question: “What is the effect of social media networking on the emergence and dissemination of democratic ideas in the countries living under authoritarian regime?” The question is examined to test the following hypothesis: Due to their ability to connect people, regardless of time and distance, social media networks are deemed responsible for the emergence and swift spread of democratic ideas across the nations that live under authoritarian rule.
Social media sites have become an integral part of people’s daily life. The validity of this statement has been confirmed by Greenwood, Perrin and Duggan, experts of the Pew Research Center. The data synthesized by Greenwood, Perrin and Duggan point out that 68% of all adult Americans use Facebook, 28% are subscribed to Instagram, 26% prefer Pinterest, 25% use LinkedIn and 21% choose Twitter (1). In developing countries, the prevalence rate may differ, but not strikingly. Indeed, the 2009 survey identified 40-45 million internet users in 16 Arab countries (Abbassi 1). Taking into account the incredible popularity of social media platforms, experts seek to understand the role that media space plays in democratization processes and political mobilization. Lazar argues that the spread of social media networks has approximated the situation where democracy is a “market place of ideas and opinions” (64). This has become possible because social media sites act as the platforms where online users can “freely discuss and analyze the social problems, in order to find and implement the best solutions and public policies” (Lazar 64). In a democratic state, social media space has become one of the cornerstones of the strong governance. Lazar argues that social media space acts as a linking chain between two other cornerstones: citizens as a source of power in a democratic state and the public institutions that …