From February 2011 to July 2012, formerly suppressed political parties struggled to fill the political void post-Hosni Mubarak. While debates about Egypt's political future circulated, individuals as well as dissident factions employed various interpretations of women and their roles to symbolically represent their varying ideologies. Despite the significance and economic value women produce as citizens, many political actors regularly bracket their concerns as irrelevant to the affairs of the state. As a result, political actors have engaged with new strategic techniques to access the various politicized publics that marginalized subaltern groups. The most publicized approach during this time, involved individual's employment of social media, where political actors could not only escape state media's control over information, but also produce their own level of citizen authority. By ethnographically exploring social networking forums and engaging with Cairene political actors, this research argues that a dialectical relationship exists between social media and politicized publics where actors repurpose, and challenge concepts about women to alter the political atmosphere during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Using participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and discourse analysis, this research explores how the analytical category of women was contested in social media and to what extent these classifications were manifested in publics found on- and offline. In order to understand the shifting political spheres during the Egyptian revolution, this ethnographic study engages with the symbolic deployment of women as a category, and the relationship between the production of women and publics. Participants of this research were selected amongst a systematic random sampling framework via Twitter; using prevalent hash tags that engaged with discourses about Egyptian women, the 2011 Egyptian revolution, future governance, and cyber activism. Key events served as a methodological frame to constitute case studies. The events were derived from interviews in which, participants defined what they believed to be moments of significance. This research contributes to the literature regarding the effect new communication technologies have on social structures by investigating the implication that genders has online. This is important because the ways women are marked, categorized, and circulated, consequently contribute to shaping future governance and sociopolitical apparatuses.

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Graduation Date


Submission Date

September 2012

First Advisor

Westmoreland, Mark

Second Advisor

Sabea, Han



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Women -- Political activity -- Egypt.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Online chat groups -- Political aspects -- Egypt.


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


This research and the writing of this thesis would not have been possible without so many people to whom I will always be indebted. Thanks to the readers of my committee Dr. Han Sabea and Dr. John Schaefer for their commitment and invaluable insights during the undertaking of this study. A special and sincere thanks to my thesis advisor Dr. Mark Westmoreland whose patience, involvement, commitment and encouragement was absolutely indispensible for the completion of this research. Without his careful guidance and skillful teaching methods, I fear I would still be relating societal constructions to a sandwich. My gratitude extends further to Ms. Dalia Adel Edris and Mr. Lilian Butros for their empathy and geniality. Whether research related or otherwise, they never ceased to offer their support and assistance. Conducting research in a country where the language is not your own is never an easy feat, therefore, thank you to all the individuals who have helped me translate content written or spoken in Arabic: riman El Bakry, Noha Roushdy, Mohammed Saeed, and Karim Emad. Filly and always, I am grateful to my mother Patricia, my grandparents Charlötte and Milton Johnson, and the rest of my family for their unwavering enthusiasm and support during the course of this degree.