Call: Journal of Communication Special Issue on Social Media and the “Arab Spring”

Phil Howard and Malcolm Parks are putting together a special issue of the Journal of Communication on communication technologies and political resistance in the Middle East and North Africa. The email from Malcolm Parks and the full call are below.


Email from Malcolm Parks:

Over the past several months events in the Middle East and elsewhere in the developing world have placed an international spotlight on the role of social media in facilitating and resisting social change. Communication researchers should be at the center of efforts to understand these events.  I am pleased to announce that a special issue of the Journal of Communication will be devoted to this exciting and important topic.  Prof. Philip Howard, whose recent book, The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam, makes an important contribution to our understanding of the “Arab Spring,” has agreed to serve as Guest Co-editor of this special issue planned for early 2012.  Deadline for submission is August 15, 2011.

Please feel free to contact Prof. Howard ( or me ( should you have further questions.

Malcolm (Mac) Parks
Editor, Journal of Communication
Professor of Communication
Department of Communication Box 353740
University of Washington
Seattle, WA  98195

Social Media and Political Change: Journal of Communication Special Issue

The “Arab Spring” as well as recent events in other parts of the world have demonstrated that new communication technologies, such as mobile phones and the internet, are simultaneously new tools for social movement organizing and new tools for surveillance by authoritarian regimes. Though communication theory necessarily transcends particular technologies, software, and websites, digital media have clearly become an important part of the toolkit available to political actors. These technologies are also becoming part of the research toolkit for scholars interested in studying the changing patterns in interpersonal, political, and global communication.

How have changing patterns of interpersonal, political, and global communication created new opportunities for social movements, or new means of social control by political elites? The role of social media in new patterns of communication is especially dramatic across North Africa and the Middle East, where decades of authoritarian rule have been challenged—with varying degrees of success. Social media—broadly understood as a range of communication technologies that allow individuals to manage the flow of content across their own networks of family, friends and other social contacts—seem to have had a crucial role in the political upheaval and social protest in several countries. Mass communication has not ceased to be important, but is now joined with a variety of other media with very different properties that may reinforce, displace, counteract, or create fresh new phenomena.

This Special Issue seeks original qualitative, comparative, and quantitative research on social media and political change, particularly as related to events in North Africa and the Middle East, but we are also receptive to work on political change in other parts of the developing world. We would welcome manuscripts from a diverse range of methodologies, and covering diverse communities and cultures. Methodological innovations or mixed method approaches are particularly encouraged, and manuscripts on the interpersonal and intergroup aspects of social movement organizing are central interest. Whatever the approach, our goal is to select manuscripts that are grounded in the actual use of social media in promoting or resisting political change in developing countries and regions.

If you have questions regarding the appropriateness of a potential submission, please contact Prof. Philip N. Howard (

Deadline for Submission is August 15th, 2011, through Manuscripts must confirm to all JOC guidelines, including the use of APA 6th edition format and a limit of 30 pages total manuscript length. Please indicate your desire to be considered for the special issue in your cover letter.