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Hegemony in the Digital Age: The Arab/Israeli Conflict Onlineby Stephen M. E. Marmura
Synopses & Reviews
Internet technology has arguably changed the rules by which individuals, social movements, and institutions compete for political and cultural influence in technologically advanced societies. The author considers this reality through reference to the concept of hegemony; looking to the ways in which diverse actors in American civil society compete with one another while simultaneously challenging dominant sources of authority. The Arab/Israeli conflict is drawn upon as a boundary object holding direct interest to a wide range of state-aligned lobbies, broadly-based social movements, and marginalized 'extremist' groups, each of which hopes to affect the course of U.S. Mid-East policy. While various dimensions of internet use and activism are explored, Stephen Marmura directs particular attention to the importance and limitations of the World Wide Web as a mass medium. Examining phenomena ranging from mainstream news dissemination to the propaganda warfare visible online amongst racist, religious fundamentalist, and ultra-nationalist organizations, he argues the Net's greatest advantages are ultimately accrued by those most vested in the political status quo. Marmura argues further that widespread use of the Web is likely contributing to processes of social fragmentation, even as it reinforces ideological discourses favorable to state power.
Book News Annotation:
Marmura (sociology, Queen's U., Canada) examines the way primarily American-based groups engage the World Wide Web in order to attempt to advance their diverse agendas vis-à-vis the Arab/Israeli conflict. He analyzes three case studies in which these actors engage in Web-based activism, communication and mobilization strategies, and propaganda warfare. Adopting the forms of social identity construction conceptualized by Castells in 2004's The Power of Identity, the cases involve mainstream human rights groups and political lobbies in their roles as "project identities," ultranationalist and racist organizations in their roles as "resistance identities," and CNN.com in its role as "legitimating identity." He argues that the very diversity of the Internet may serve to enhance legitimating discourses and ideological hegemony. Annotation Â©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This book examines the relative benefits which the internet provides to a range of weak and powerful actors in American society. The Arab/Israeli conflict is utilized as a topic holding common interest to all of those considered. Evidence suggests that the Web's exploitation by countless competing interests is contributing to the consolidation of dominant discourses and policies surrounding American Mid-East policy, while exacerbating processes of social fragmentation in civil society.
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History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy