Macquarie University
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Augmented Revolution: The Role of Social Media in the Arab Spring and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement

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posted on 2022-03-28, 19:27 authored by Qiyuan HU
This thesis explores the role of social media in social movements. It focuses on how social media changes the environment of communication in social movements; how activists operate in social movements through social media; and how social movements travel from one region to the next through social media. The thesis views social media as an extension of activists' fields of operation, enabling them to fight for change in the actual and virtual worlds simultaneously. Supported by the perspectives of public sphere, networked publics, affective publics and augmented reality, the thesis argues for "augmented revolutions" where online and offline actions interact. The thesis proceeds through a comparative analysis of two social movements where social media played an important role: The Arab Spring in 2011 and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement in 2014. These case studies show that social media changes the activists' ways to participate, to express and deliver messages, and to mobilise crowds. It enables connective actions and the reconstruction of communal spaces. Based on these findings, this thesis asserts that social media may trigger social movements in other regions.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Literature Review -- The global digital sphere for social movements -- Social media and the emergence of the global digital sphere -- The global digital sphere and the digital public sphere -- Activists and social media use -- The transformation of activists -- The restructuring of social networks online -- Social movements in the era of social media -- Twitter /Facebook revolution? -- Social media and protest mobilisation -- Chapter 1 Social Movements in Arab and Hong Kong -- Chapter 2 Virtualising the Actual World -- Breaking the boundaries -- Truth or 'white lies'? -- 'We are all Khaled Said' -- Chapter 3 Actualising the Virtual World -- Mobilising through posting -- Connective actions and communal spaces -- Who speaks for whom? -- Conclusion - References.


Bibliography: pages 120-139 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Music, Media, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Ilona Hongisto


Copyright Qiyuan HU 2018. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (140 pages) illustrations, photographs

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