Foregrounding Ordinary People: Adopting the Logic of the Individual



The act of self-immolation performed by Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia is considered the defining moment from which the Arab Spring erupted. The image of the burned Bouazizi, circulated in the Arab world and around the globe, marked the rising of ordinary people against the corrupt, tyrannical regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. From this point on, TV viewers the world over were witness to ordinary people positioned by the Western and Arab news media in a range of contexts: victims of the ruthless violence committed by dictators, militants retaliating following years of oppression, and protesters in the streets and squares believing that better days were around the corner. The wave of protest was facilitated, as many communication scholars argue, by the new technological developments, especially those of social media (Brock, 2011; Shirky, 2011). Facebook, Twitter and blogs informed the citizens in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and elsewhere of the location of the next protest. They also undermined the mainstream media in the Arab states, which presented the protests as acts of terror and chaos. Instead, social media reframed the events from a new perspective: that of ordinary people (Hamdy and Ehab, 2012). This is why several technological optimists labeled the events in the Arab world as the ‘Twitter Revolutions’ or the ‘Facebook Revolutions’ (see Cottle, 2011; Wolfsfeld et al., 2012).


Ordinary People Arab World Terror Attack News Program Ordinary Person 
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Copyright information

© Zohar Kampf and Tamar Liebes 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael

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