Understanding Popular Arab Bloggers: From Public Spheres to Cultural Citizens
This article addresses the usefulness of the concepts public sphere, counterpublics, and cultural citizenship for understanding some of the most popular noncommercial Lebanese, Egyptian, and Kuwaiti bloggers in the period 2009–2010. It compares the political and media landscapes, drawing on semi-structured interviews and the most common blogging themes in these three contexts. While the notion of counterpublics was found useful for understanding some types of blogging community, cultural citizenship stands out as a more flexible, process-oriented concept capturing how bloggers acculturate information and entertainment as sources of empowerment, resistance, and community belonging. The popular bloggers can be characterized as having consumerist, civil society, or formal politics trajectories, each challenging traditional power structures in ways that can be traced to specific national contexts.