International Media Diffusion and the Spread of Democratization: the Arab Spring
Holland, Shea B.
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The Arab Spring has been the most recent period when nations have begun the political shift towards democratization. The international media diffusion theory postulates that for individuals in nations undergoing transition, consuming international media broadcasts from Western sources will increase individuals’ acceptance of the concept and process of democracy; henceforth referred to as democratization. This study examined the content of the international news media to determine if messages about the process of democratization were present, and if so, if they were supportive. This study focuses on international media broadcasts mentioning the countries Middle East and North African region in their content because these nations are undergoing political transition which allowed the international media diffusion theory to be examined. While this study found that democratization messages were being broadcast by the international news media, those messages were not generally supportive of the process of democratization. As a result, the unquestioned role of international media in the process of democratization and their pivotal role in the international media diffusion theory may have lost some relevance with the advancement of more current communication technologies such as the Internet and social media and the role they played in the Arab Spring.