HASHTAG UNITY IN THE MIDST OF THE BLOCKADE OF QATAR
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This thesis examines the digital manifestations of the wave of popular nationalism that emerged in Qatar following the outbreak of the Gulf crisis in June 2017. It undertakes a multimethod analysis of 39,454 messages on the social network Twitter (known as ‘tweets’) published around an Arabic hashtag called #ourtribeisqatar. In addition, the thesis employs the concept of networked publics to analyse the role of digital expressions and connections in response to a political crisis and as a medium of resistance against an external threat. The hashtag #ourtribeisqatar appeared on Twitter in the early days of the Gulf crisis. It attracted thousands of users from various locations and backgrounds to form a digitally networked public around the call for national unity and solidarity. Following its emergence, the hashtag rapidly became charged with powerful sentiments, which acted to cement resistance against the blockade imposed on Qatar. An in-depth analysis of these tweets demonstrates that users expressed national unity and solidarity through both visual and textual displays of strength, resilience, loyalty and pride. This was focussed on the persona of the nation’s leader, Emir Tamim Al-Thani, while at the same time denouncing social and cultural divisions. The dataset also confirms that ‘ordinary people’ were by far the most active actors in the circulation of content loaded with nationalist discourse, along with the use of strategies to amplify the impact of content fed into the hashtag. Despite being a media-intensive region, little empirical research has so far been undertaken on the use of digital media in Qatar, and in the Arabian Gulf in general. This study therefore contributes to the literature on the usage of digital media in the region, as well as to the growing body of literature about the ways digital public networking platforms influence both politics and society.
- Gulf Studies [30 items ]