The past few decades have given scholars a rich collection of data that can help them analyze political change, whether Latin America in 1980s and 1890s, the former Soviet Bloc after 1989, Africa since the 1990s, or the Arab Spring in 2011. It was the last transformation, however, that has galvanized researchers to assess activism and upheaval in the context of the digital age. Even though the 2011 wave was not, of course, the first time that digital tools were used, what made the Arab Spring a compelling case was that citizens had more hardware on hand than before to spread their movement from below, as well as new virtual networks that complemented and reinforced networks on the ground.
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