Internet technology has arguably changed the rules by which individuals, social movements, and institutions compete for political and cultural influence in technologically advanced societies. The author considers this reality through reference to the concept of hegemony; looking to the ways in which diverse actors in American civil society compete with one another while simultaneously challenging dominant sources of authority. The Arab/Israeli conflict is drawn upon as a boundary object holding direct interest to a wide range of state-aligned lobbies, broadly-based social movements, and marginalized 'extremist' groups, each of which hopes to affect the course of U.S. Mid-East policy. While various dimensions of internet use and activism are explored, Stephen Marmura directs particular attention to the importance and limitations of the World Wide Web as a mass medium. Examining phenomena ranging from mainstream news dissemination to the propaganda warfare visible online amongst racist, religious fundamentalist, and ultra-nationalist organizations, he argues the Net's greatest advantages are ultimately accrued by those most vested in the political status quo. Marmura argues further that widespread use of the Web is likely contributing to processes of social fragmentation, even as it reinforces ideological discourses favorable to state power.
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Stephen M. E. Marmura is assistant professor of sociology at St. Francis Xavier University.Review:
Stephen Marmura has made a signification contribution in this careful examination of the political contest being conducted on the Internet between Arab and Jewish sources. (Karim H. Karim, award-winning author of Islamic Peril: Media and Global Violence)
Marmura successfully transcends the commonplace binary observations about the Internet either facilitating social fragmentation or ideological hegemony in this book by introducing an altogether more nuanced reading of web-based political activism. (Brian D. Loader, editor, Information, Communication & Society)
Marmura's book is a pathbreaking work on how the World Wide Web is used in the Middle East propaganda war. It deploys innovative analysis of web content emanating from Moslem, Christian and Jewish fundamentalist groups in their efforts to mobilize support for their causes particularly in the U.S arena. His main finding is that in spite of wide access to various sources of information through the internet, dominant discourse on the Middle East retains its support of the status quo. (Elia Zureik, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Queen's University)
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