Probing the Interplay Between the Public Sphere and Cyber Sphere Saga for Political Mobilization Among the Youth Community in Ethiopia

Solomon Tabor


DOI: 10.7176/NMMC/79-01

Publication date: April 30th 2019



Over a period of time, human communication has gone through a lot of advancement. As literatures point out, the advancement has shown a gigantic development from oral tradition to written culture through scripting, printing, and to the electronic world through wired electronic communication, wireless electronic communication and to today’s digital communication the so called the New Media. The recent information and technological revolution has changed the way in which People interact, communicate and share information; to this end Auer explained it as “vehicles that allow ordinary people to enter and influence many arenas of public life” (Auer, 2011:709).

With regards to the newness in new media, the key differentiating factor in terms of these new media is their highly interactive quality. The original uses of the internet include the more traditional web page format which allows users to only access information. These are referred to as unidirectional platforms and they are similar to traditional media such as newspapers and television. Social media platforms on the other hand are multi-directional or interactive

Internet has been transforming the use of traditional media and providing a new and interactive system of communication. Regarding to the fundamental influence the new media has on human Communication process Croteau and Hoynes (2003:322) states that the new media has:

• Altered the meaning of geographic distance.

• Allowed for a huge increase in the volume of communication.

• Provided the possibility of increasing the speed of communication.

• Provided opportunities for interactive communication.

• Allowed forms of communication that was previously separate to overlap and interconnect.

With regards to the strong interdependence between politics and the new media in this digital era, Polat (2005: 435) examines it interms of three facets: i.e the internet as an information source, a communication tool and a virtual public sphere. It is obvious that the new media has been serving as an information source quite more than any other communication out lets.

There is no doubt that too it is a tool of communication. A huge academic effort will be made in this particular study to emphasize the third facet, which is its role as a virtual public sphere. The hyper-textual, interactive, immediacy and other peculiar characteristics of the new media have made it a suitable public sphere (cyber sphere).

Since this study principally focuses on the role of the new media on political mobilization, it’s imperative to look into literatures associated to it. Consequently, According to Enjolras, Steen-Johnsen, & Wollebaek, (2012:17) political mobilization refers to “the process by which candidates, parties, activists, and groups induce other people to participate in politics to win elections, to pass bills, to modify rulings and to influence policies”. Hence,the term political mobilization can be defined as the process through which citizens or activists induce one another through the medium of the internet and social media to participate in politics and specifically with the intention of influencing politics.

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