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The Relationship between the State and the New Media in Egypt:  A Dynamic of Openness, Adaptation, and Narrowing

Limor Lavie and Bosmat Yefet


This article offers a new perspective on the extensive discussion of the role of new media in facilitating the 2011 Egyptian uprising by placing it within the historical context of how the state responded to new media in the previous decades. This article uses an archaeological analysis of state media to reveal how the state coped with the news media (newspapers, radio, television, satellite television) in the past to infer the present relationship between the state and the new media (the internet and social media). We discerned a recurring cyclical pattern characterized by a dynamic of openness–adaptation–narrowing, which sheds light on the media’s ability to challenge state authority and on the state’s ability to contain and limit new media. We suggest that the role of the internet and social media in the Egyptian “Arab Spring” should be viewed as being on this continuum, as an extension of processes of state–media relations that had developed in the preceding decades.

Keywords: Egypt, new media, Arab Spring, communications, revolution, 25 January uprising

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 pp. 138–157