Mediatization in the Arab World: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of New Media Use

Julie B. Wiest 1 *, Nahed Eltantawy 2

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Abstract

New media (including online and cellular technologies) are being embraced around the world, and younger people have led the way in their adoption. These technologies have spread particularly quickly in the Middle East as a result of innovations in satellite, cellular, and Internet technology. In addition, the Arab Spring was a major milestone for new media adoption in the Middle East and helped define appropriate uses for these technologies. Although they have been used for activism and expression, evidence suggests that these are not (or perhaps are no longer) the primary uses of these technologies among young Arabs. Drawing on the concept of mediatization in an analysis of surveys of American and Arab young people, this study explores cultural influences in recent online and cellular technology use in the Arab world, as well as cultural consequences of the increasing adoption of these technologies. In particular, it identifies and explores similarities and differences among the two groups regarding ownership of devices, online and cellular activities, and frequency of these activities. Findings reiterate the prominence of new media in the Arab world and suggest a continuing influence of traditional values, as well as an increasing influence of Western culture.

Keywords

cell phones Internet mediatization new media United Arab Emirates United States

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp. 120-142

Published Online: 15 Apr 2015

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