Why did the people in the Arab Spring Revolutions participate?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that this becomes one of the most fundamental questions.  I don't think that you can get a totalizing answer to the question.  On one hand, I think that a part of the reason why people participated was because of the belief that the current system was not working.  In so many Arab nations, the power structure that had been present had been the same one that their parents had known, and the same one that their grandparents had known.  This particularly younger group of people had felt that the government was not responsive to their needs.  The fruitseller who felt shamed by the police in Tunisia, Mohamed Bouaziz, was a young man at 26 years old.  His immolation was seen as a call to action that other young people captured on cell phones and shared all over the internet.  The youth element cannot be denied in examining how the popular uprising consisted of people of one particular age group demanding change from leadership of another age group.  Another reason why so many participated was due to social media.  The use of social media and the internet helped to bring about, for perhaps one of the first times in modernity, the idea of an "pan- Arab" identity.  For so long, the Arab people had been seen as separate from one another.  While they shared more in common than had been accepted, keeping them divided and segmented benefited those in the position of power.  Technology, social media, and the internet- domains of the young, for the most part- had become the means by which the desire for change had spread.  The lightning pace with which revolutions happened in different nations had been due, in large part, to technology.  In this, people wanted to participate in the calls for change when they were exposed to such change over the internet and through technology.

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