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When Virtual Reality Meets Realpolitik: Social Media Shaping the Arab Government-Citizen Relationship


  • Ralf Klischewski

    () (Faculty of Management Technology, The German University in Cairo)


Since most activists participating in the recent uprisings in Arab countries have been using social media to an unprecedented extent, public analyst and researchers have rushed to reflect on and explain the phenomena, often attributing a ‘change agency’ to social media as such. This exploratory research combines recent publications and use statistics with insights from blogs and focus group meetings in order to challenge our understanding of the role of social media and its usage in reshaping the government-citizen relationship: Are the traits of social media significant enough to single them out and discuss their specific impact on the government-citizen relationship? Are we well advised to attribute an ‘agency’ of social media in shaping politics and inducing political change? And in view of the actual use of social media: What are the options of containing emerging ‘destructive’ phenomena and ‘improving’ the government-citizen relationship? Answers are presented as lessons learned for future e-government research: (1) Social media enable a new political sphere for Arab citizens, however (2) social media as such do not act and therefore do not 'create' e.g. democracy, rather (3) social media need care taking to serve well as mediator among citizens and between citizens and government.

Suggested Citation

  • Ralf Klischewski, 2012. "When Virtual Reality Meets Realpolitik: Social Media Shaping the Arab Government-Citizen Relationship," Working Papers 34, The German University in Cairo, Faculty of Management Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:guc:wpaper:34

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    More about this item


    Social media; government-citizen relationship; Egypt; Arab countries; e-government research;

    JEL classification:

    • M15 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - IT Management
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy

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