Abir Kopty completed her BA at Haifa University in Economic and accountancy. She then moved to work in the media and communication field in Palestinian civil society organizations. In 2006-2007 she was a Chevening Scholar of the British Council and completed her MA in Political Communication at the City University of London. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in the Institute for Media and Communication Studies, Freie Universität Berlin under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Carola Richter. Her research interest includes political participation of young generations and the New Media.
Thesis: Palestinians and Social Media: Power Dynamics in Online Communities
The research investigates the impact of social media and online communications on Palestinian political activism, on the national level (Palestinian) in its transnational contexts (regional and international). It draws on many scholars’ suggestion that the Internet helps creating communities, in particular virtual communities, democratize and decentralize movements and allows freedom of speech.
The examines the assumptions that internet promotes collective identity (Arquilla & Ronfeldt, 2001) and helps in creation of community (Norris, 2004) and may reduce attention to individual differences and enhance group unity. (Sassenberg & Postmes, 2002). Also, Internet and information technologies seem to help create decentralized, non-hierarchical movements (Van de Donk et al., 2004, p. 7; Geser, 2001, p. 36-41) replacing hierarchical bureaucracy with flat, networked structures (Tapscott, 1999 in DiMaggio et al., 2001).
The study explores the dynamics between and within Palestinian online communities, and tries to shed light on power relations, trust, competition, conflicts, censorship and modes of domination.
Theoretically, the research relies on Pierre Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice, to examine power relations and the reproduction of hierarchies within the Field of Palestinian online activism, by exploring group hierarchies within this field and the individuals-agents’ interrelations. The methodology includes Social Network Analysis, participant observation and in depth interviews with activists.