The Role of Social and Mass media in Revolution and Change in the Arab World

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

A university level course in Communications, International Relations, or Political Science, or consent of instructor.


The course analyzes the communicative forms and materials used in social media and mass media. We will focus on written journalistic materials and on communication formats used in the most common current social media (Facebook and Twitter). Similarly, we will analyze other ways of communication from audiovisual resources. The thematic units will describe the revolutions, the social and political changes and the jihadist movement. From the perspective of the Critical Discourse Analysis and the fundamentals of Pragmatics, we will provide the students with the necessary tools to study the role of communication in the political processes resulting from the so-called “Arab Spring”.

Watch this short video to get an overview for this course!

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory for all IES classes, including field studies. For this course, if a student misses more than three classes, one third of a letter grade will be deducted from the final grade for every additional absence. Missed exams, tests, presentations, or any other assignments can only be rescheduled in case of documented medical or family emergencies.

Learning outcomes: 
By the end of the course, students will be able to:    Knowledge: 
  • Identify the main actors and interests on current media and politics. 
  • Outline the historical evolution of rebellions and protests by looking at the different cases studies.  
  • Familiarize themselves with the difficulties that represent the studied region across the modern Middle East.  
  • Identify the technical resources used in press, social media, films, etc. so as to reach pragmatic goals: Informing, misreporting, manipulating, lying, launching propaganda, etc. 
  • Analyze the information revealed through different social and mass-media in an independent way and using their own criteria. 
  • Formulate contemporary trends in the relation between media and politics. 
  • Analyze the role of media in constructing modern nationalisms. 
  • Compare media policies applied in different Arab countries. 
  • Understand the informative material with divergent content to which they are used to. Acquiring an important tool that can allow them to configure their own perception and use discursive criteria through a comparative analysis of information.
Method of presentation: 
  • Readings
  • Class discussion
  • Guest lecturers
  • Class assignments
  • Presentations
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Class participation - 10%
  • Exams - 40%:
    • mid-term exam - 20%
    • final exam - 20%
  • Media Observation Laboratory - 25%
  • Final paper - 25%
  Class Participation - 10% Active student participation is expected throughout the course. Students are required to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings, contribute to class discussion, and answer questions posed by the instructor and their peers..  
  • Exams - 40%:
    • mid-term exam - 20%
    • final exam - 20%
Students will have to demonstrate their knowledge of the readings, lectures, documentaries, and reports in short written essays   Media Observation Laboratory - 25% Students must gather news and current events related to the country assigned to them at the beginning of the course, report to the class and the instructor, and follow up on the evolution of the events. Student-reporters are expected to observe (and, when appropriate, participate in) different written, audiovisual, and social media material. Every two weeks, each student will either give an oral presentation to the class or upload it to the Moodle platform, and also submit a brief report about a specific topic related to their country. At the end of the course, each student will submit a complete file about his/her assigned country.   Final Paper - 25% Students will write an 8-10 page research paper related to the course content. They will choose the subject in cooperation with the instructor.   




Required Reading


Presentation of the course, material and methodology.

Newspaper analysis.

  • Newspaper titles



Socio-political, geographic and historical context of the Middle East and the Arab Spring. 

Approach to Arab society before the revolutions.

  • Quick historical Revision (PPT) 

  • Short films/ Brief articles

Szmolka, Inmaculada. “Introducción: actores y dinámicas de cambio en el Norte de África y Oriente Próximo”, in Revista CIDOB d’Afers Internacionals, n. 109, 2015, p. 7-21.


Relevant concepts: Revolution, riots, protests, civil wars, yihadist movement, fundamentalism, democracy and Islam.

Newspaper analysis.

  • Short documentary

  • Concepts use and comparison

  • Cartoons and caricatures 

Mellón, Joan Anton (ed).  “Islamismo Yihadista: Radicalización y Contrarradicalización”. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch, 2015.

Torres Soriano, Manuel R. “El eco del terror: ideología y propaganda en el terrorismo yihadista”. Murcia: Plaza y Valdés, 2009, p. 56-95.


The outbreak of the revolution: Common and particular causes.

Student presentations.

  • Facebook posts, videos, discussion and pictures.

  • News reports/ Documentaries

Brown, Jeremy. “The Arab uprising: The people want the fall of the regime”. London: Simon&Schuster, 2013, p. 29-47.

 Gutiérrez de Terrán, Ignacio y Álvarez- Ossorio, Ignacio (eds.). “Informes sobre las Revueltas Árabes”. Madrid: Edición del oriente y del mediterráneo, 2011. (Chapter corresponding to each student´s assignment).


Social and Mass-media and their role in the political change

  • Clippings

  • Newspaper headlines

  • Cartoons and caricatures

Martínez-Fresneda Osorio, Humberto. “El diseño periodístico, clave en la lectura crítica de la prensa”, in Comunicar, Revista Científica de Comunicación y Educación, n. 30, v. XV, 2008, p. 179-184.

Collins, J. y Glover, R. (eds.). “Lenguaje colateral: claves para justificar una guerra”. Madrid: Páginas de Espuma, 2003. 

Guzmán, Armando. “Redes Sociales extinguen a la prensa escrita: Ramonet Míguez”, in, 2013.


Social and Mass-media and their role in the political change. 

Case study: Interview with expert

  • Facebook/Twitter posts

  • Press headlines

  • News fragments from different national and international TV channels.

Alli, Sadaf andy Fahmy, Shahira. “Gatekeeping and citizen journalism: The use of social media during the recent uprisings in Iran, Egypt, and Libya”, in Media, War & Conflict, n. 6., April 2013, p. 55-69.

North, Gary y Rockwell, Lew. “Facebook, Twitter, and Revolution”, in Truth 11, February 2011.





Changes in different countries: Before and after revolution.

Student presentations

  • Power point presentation

  • Press articles

Trujillo, Daniel. “Primavera Árabe; cuatro años de conceptos envenenados”, in blog Traduciendo la realidad, 2015.


National and international agents, reactions and interventions.

Newspaper analysis

  • Press articles

  • Newspaper headlines

Tomás Morales, Susana (coord). “Hacia el arraigo de una cultura de seguridad y defensa”, in Retos del derecho ante las nuevas amenazas. Madrid: Dykinson, 2015, p. 15-26. 

Serrano, Pascual. “Desinformación: Cómo los medios ocultan el mundo”. Barcelona: Península, 2009, p. 436-460.

Carbonnier, Joakim. “The Arab Spring and its different outcomes: Explaining the variation in the state of democratization”. Student paper in Lund University (Department of Political Science), 2013.


Women and revolution

Student presentations

  • Reports and documentaries

Bohn, Lauren. “Women and the Arab uprisings: 8 'agents of change' to follow”, in CNN online edition, February 3, 2012.

Morgan, Robin. “Women of the Arab Spring”, in Ms. Magazine, Spring 2011.


Social and political consequences of the revolutions. Yihadist movements and Daesh.

Case study

Interview with expert

  • Clippings

  • Documentary

  • Short film

González Cabrera, Joaquín Manuel. “Estudio psicosocial de los procesos de radicalización islamista y reclutamiento yihadista en contextos críticos”. Granada: Universidad de Granada, 2011, p. 37-67.

Torres Soriano, Manuel R. “¿Qué nos dice la propaganda yihadista sobre las revueltas del Norte de África?”, in Instituto Español de Estudios Estratégicos (IEEE), n. 13, 2013, p.1-13.  


Evolution of position of Western and Arab countries throughout the process.

Newspaper analysis.

  • Newspaper headlines

  • Presentation

Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño, Ignacio. “La primavera árabe revisitada: retorno del autoritarismo, choque de islamismos”. Madrid: Aranzadi, 2015.

Simpson, John. “Who are the winners and losers from the Arab Spring?”, in BBC News, 12 November 2014. (Chapter corresponding to each student´s assignment)


Visit to the Andalusian Press Center: journalistic documentation archives.










Required readings: 
  • Ariza Viguera, M. et ál. (2008): Los recursos de la mentira: lenguajes y textos, Barcelona, Anthropos.
  • Agirreazaldegi Berriozaba, Teresa (2011). Documentación audiovisual : nuevas tendencias en el entorno digital 
  • ALLI, Sadaf y FAHMY, Shahira (2012). “Gatekeeping and citizen journalism: The use of social media during the recent uprisings in Iran, Egypt, and Libya”, Media, War & Conflict, nº nº 1, vol. 6.
  • Anguita, C. et ál. (Eds.) (2006): Información y Guerras en el siglo XXI.
  • Collins, J. y Glover, R. (Eds.) (2003): Lenguaje colateral: claves para justificar una guerra, Madrid, Páginas de Espuma 
  • González Cabrera, Joaquín Manuel (2011). Estudio psicosocial de los procesos de radicalización islamista y reclutamiento yihadista en contextos críticos.
  • Gutiérrez de Terrán, Ignacio y  Álvarez- Ossorio, Ignacio (2011). Informes sobre los países árabes: Túnez, Egipto, Yemen, Bahréin, Libia y Siria. Edición del oriente y del mediterráneo. 
  • Guzmán, Armando (2013). «Redes Sociales extinguen a la prensa escrita: Ramonet Míguez». Proceso. 
  • Marzal Felici, Javier y Casero Ripollés, Andreu. (2011). Periodismo en televisión: nuevos horizontes, nuevas tendencias / Andreu Casero Ripollés, Javier Marzal Felici Mucchielli, A. (2002): El arte de influir: Análisis de las técnicas de manipulación, Madrid, Cátedra.
  • Mellón, Joan Anton y Carbonell , Elisenda A. y Blanco Navarro , José María (2015). Islamismo Yihadista: Radicalización y Contrarradicalización 
  • North, Gary y Rockwell, Lew (2011): «Facebook, Twitter, and Revolution». Truth 11, 3 de febrero:
  • Pérez-Madrid, Francisca y Gas i Aixendri, Montserrat (2013). La gobernanza de la diversidad religiosa: personalidad y territorialidad en las sociedades multiculturales. 
  • Sanjurjo Rebollo, Beatriz (2015). Manual de internet y redes sociales : una mirada legal al nuevo panorama de las Comunicaciones en la Red, con especial referencia al Periodismo Digital, Propiedad Intelectual, Protección de Datos, Negocios Audiovisuales, Ecommerce, Consumidores, Marketing online y Publicidad Digital
  • Serrano, P. (2009): Desinformación: Cómo los medios ocultan el mundo, Barcelona, Península.
  • Szmolka, Inmaculada (2015). “Introducción: actores y dinámicas de cambio en el Norte de África y Oriente Próximo”. En Escenarios post-Primavera Árabe : actores y dinámicas de cambio. 
  • Tomás Morales de, Susana (2015). Retos del derecho ante las nuevas amenazas.
  • Torres Soriano, Manuel R. (2009). El eco del terror: ideología y propaganda en el terrorismo yihadista. 
  • Torres Soriano, Manuel R. (2013). ¿Qué nos dice la propaganda yihadista sobre las revueltas del Norte de África? 
  • Vijayan, Jaikumar (2012). Is the Role of Social Media in Egypt Being Overstated? Computer world.