Transnational Civil Society, Institution-Building, and IT: Reflections from the Middle East

Author(s) Jon W. Anderson
Contact Jon W. Anderson, Catholic University of America, 620 Michigan Av., N.E. Washington, DC 20064, USA. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 2, Iss. 1, 2007, pp. 4-25
Published May 10, 2007
Type Article
Abstract The important connectives of information technology will come with institutions that successfully merge IT, transnationalism, and 'civil' society such that each conveys its properties to the other. How to conceptualize and understand these properties is a compelling need for social theory. Comparative study of the Internet in the Middle East, including its supporting and related technologies, points to the crucial role of alliance-building and coalitions that create new institutions. Some of the less-evident ones are the more transnational and 'civil,' providing points of comparison - even suggesting potential future directions - to others not so apparently transnational or civil. Some elements so far not brought into analysis include engineering cultures and the more general practices of thought they privilege, alumni networks that link these cultures with more material resources but also importantly with social capital, and how those pull or are pulled together in projects that are expanding the envelope for IT generally and for its most prominent proxy and gathering point in the region, the Internet.
Keywords Middle East, information and communication technology, social networks, democracy