Standing still or ascending in the social media political participation ladder? Evidence from Iran


  • Daniella da Silva Nogueira University of Minho
  • Maria Papageorgiou University of Minho


Palabras clave:

Redes sociales, Irán, información política online, participción política online y offline, régimen autoritario


El recurso a las redes sociales ha transformado la forma en que experimentamos la participación política. Como una herramienta de comunicación en línea, las plataformas en las redes sociales han cambiado cómo se procesa y transmite el contenido político. Estos desarrollos han estimulado las prácticas de participación política, incluso en regímenes autoritarios, a pesar de ser menos tolerantes sobre cómo pueden afectar las redes sociales a la conciencia política de la población. Este estudio trata de examinar si las plataformas de redes sociales incrementan la participación política en regímenes autoritarios, utilizando Irán como estudio de caso. Irán es un régimen autoritario que impone una censura muy dura a todo tipo de medio de comunicación y aplica severas limitaciones a la libertad de expresión. Con la introducción de la escalera de participación política en las redes sociales, este articulo representa una contribución tanto teórica como empírica al testar su aplicación. Utilizando datos primarios extraídos de encuestas a pie de calle, con una muestra representativa (n = 110) recogida en tres grandes ciudades por todo el territorio de Irán, encontramos un impacto relativamente positivo del uso de las redes sociales sobre la información y participación política. Sin embargo, el nivel de participación política offline continúa siendo bajo, lo que demuestra una influencia poco significativa. De esta forma, se han podido verificar las diferentes etapas desarrolladas bajo la escalera de participación política en las redes sociales y la posición actual de Irán en la misma.


Los datos de descargas todavía no están disponibles.


Aaker, Jennifer and Victoria Chang. 2009. Obama and the Power of Social Media and Technology. Case No. M321. Stanford: Stanford Graduate School of Business. Available at: [Last accessed: May 2nd 2020].

Alami, Abdolreza. 2017. Social media use and political behavior of Iranian university students as mediated by political knowledge and attitude. Adnan, Hamedi Mohid (dir.). University of Malaya, Malaysia.

Arnstein, Sherry R. 1969. “A Ladder of Citizen Participation”, Journal of the American Planning Association, 35 (4): 216-224. Available at: 944366908977225.

Asadzade, Peyman. 2018. “New data shed light on the dramatic protests in Iran”, Washington Post, 1-1-2018. Available at: [Last aceessed: May 8th 2019].

Bailly, Jordan. 2012. The Impact of Social Media on Social Movements: A Case Study of the 2009 Iranian Green Movement and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Cottam, Martha (dir.). Washington State University, Washington.

Baumgartner, Jody C. and Jonathan S. Morris. 2009. “MyFaceTube Politics Social Networking Web Sites and Political Engagement of Young Adults”, Social Science Computer Review, 28 (1): 24-44. Available at: 309334325.

Bentivegna, Sara. 2002. “Politics and new media”, in Leah A. Lievrouw and Sonia Livingston, (eds.), Handbook of New Media: Social Shaping and Consequences of ICTs. London: SAGE Publications.

Bode, Leticia. 2015. “Political News in the News Feed: Learning Politics from Social Media”, Mass Communication and Society, 19 (1): 1-25. Available at:

Bossetta, Michael. 2018. “The Digital Architectures of Social Media: Comparing Political Campaigning on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat in the 2016 U.S. Election”, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 95 (2): 1-26.

Boulianne, Shelley. 2015. “Social media use and participation: a meta-analysis of current research, Information”, Communication and Society, 18 (5): 524-538. Available at:

Boyd, Danah. 2008. “Facebook’s privacy trainwreck: Exposure, invasion, and social convergence”, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 14 (1): 13-20. Available at:

Brady, Henry. 1999. “Political Participation”, in John P. Robinson, Philip R. Shaver and Lawrence S. Wrightsman, (eds.), Measures of Political Attitudes. San Diego: Academic Press.

Brown, Heather, Emily Guskin and Amy Mitchell. 2012. “The Role of Social Media in the Arab Uprisings”, Pew Research Center, 28-11-12. Available at: [Last accessed: May 5th 2020]

Carlisle, Juliet E. and Robert C. Patton. 2013. “Is Social Media Changing How We Understand Political Engagement? An Analysis of Facebook and the 2008 Presidential Election”, Political Research Quarterly, 66 (4): 883-895. Available at:

Carpentier, Nico. 2016. “Beyond the ladder of participation: An analytical toolkit for the critical analysis of participatory media processes”, Javnost-The Public, 23 (1): 70-88. Available at:

Casero-Ripollés, Andreu. 2018. “Research on political information and social media: Key points and challenges for the future”, El Profesional de la Información, 27 (5): 964-974. Available at:

Castells, Manuel. 2012. Networks of outrage and hope: Social movements in the Internet age. Malden: Polity Press.

Cho, Jaeho, Dhavan V. Shah, Jack M. McLeod, Douglas M. McLeod, Rosanne M. Scholl and Melissa R. Gotlieb. 2009. “Campaigns, reflection, and deliberation: Advancing an OSROR model of communication effects”, Communication Theory, 19 (1): 66-88. Available at:

Clark, Janine A. 2006. “Field research methods in the Middle East”, Political Science and Politics, 39 (3): 417-423. Available at:

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). 2019. Iran / Middle East & North Africa: Journalists attacked in Iran since 1992. Available at: [Last accessed: May 8th 2019]

Costanza-Chock, Sasha. 2008. “The Immigrant Rights Movement on the Net: Between ‘Web 2.0’ and Comunicación Popular”, American Quarterly, 60 (3): 851-864. Available at:

Dabashi, Hamid. 2013. “What happened to the Green Movement in Iran?”, Al Jazeera, 12-6-2013. Available at:

Dewey, Taylor, Juliane Kaden, Miriam Marks, Shun Matsushima and Beijing Zhu. 2012. The impact of social media on social unrest in the Arab Spring. International Policy Program. Stanford: Stanford University. Available at: [Last accessed: May 5th 2020].

Effing, Robbin, Jos van Hillegersbergand and Theo Huibers. 2011. “Social Media and Political Participation: Are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Democratizing Our Political Systems?”, in Efthimios Tambouris, Ann Macintosh and Hans De Bruijn, (eds.), Electronic Participation. Berlin: Heidelberg. Available at:

Ekman, Joakim. 2009. “Political Participation and Regime Stability: A Framework for Analyzing Hybrid Regimes”, International Political Science Review, 30 (1): 7-31. Available at:

Ekström, Mats and Adam Shehata. 2018. “Social media, porous boundaries, and the development of online political engagement among young citizens”, New Media and Society, 20 (2): 740-759. Available at:

El-Nawawy, Mohammed and Sahar Khamis. 2012. “Political activism 2.0: Comparing the role of social media in Egypt’s ‘Facebook revolution’ and Iran’s ‘Twitter uprising’”, CyberOrient, 6 (1): 8-33.

Eloranta, Jari, Hossein Kermani and Babak Rahimi. 2015. “Facebook Iran: Social Capital and the Iranian Social Media”, in David M. Faris and Babak Rahimi (eds.), Social media in Iran: politics and society after 2009. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Elson, Sara B., Douglas Yeung, Parisa Roshan, S. R. Bohandy and Alireza Nader. 2012. “Background on Social Media Use in Iran and Events Surrounding the 2009 Election”, in Sara Beth Elson, Douglas Yeung, Parisa Roshan, S. R. Bohandy and Alireza Nader (eds.), Using Social Media to Gauge Iranian Public Opinion and Mood After the 2009 Election. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Eltagouri, Marwa. 2018. “Tens of thousands of people have protested in Iran. Here’s why”, Washington Post, 03-01-18. Available at: [Last acessed: May 15th 2019].

Ems, Lindsay. 2014. “Twitter’s place in the tussle: how old power struggles play out on a new stage”, Media, Culture and Society, 36 (5): 720-731. Available at:

Esfahlani, Mohammad S. 2015. “The Politics and Anti-Politics of Facebook in Context of the Iranian 2009 Presidential Elections and Beyond”, in David M. Faris and Babak Rahimi (eds.), Social media in Iran: politics and society after 2009. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Esfandiari, Golnaz. 2017. Iranian Politicians Who Use Twitter Despite State Ban. RFE/RL: Free Media In Unfree Societies. Available at: [Last accessed: May 11th 2020].

Eveland, William P. 2004. “The effect of political discussion in producing informed citizens: The roles of information, motivation, and elaboration”, Political Communication, 21 (2): 177-193. Available at:

Ehteshami, Anoushiravan and Luciano Zaccara. 2013. “Reflections on Iran’s 2013 Presidential Elections”, Orient, 4 (54): 7-14.

Faris, David M. 2015. “Architectures of Control and Mobilization in Egypt and Iran”, in David M. Faris and Babak Rahimi (eds.), Social media in Iran: politics and society after 2009. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Fountain, Megan. 2017. Social Media and its Effects in Politics: The Factors that Influence Social Media use for Political News and Social Media use Influencing Political Participation. Wood, Thomas and Acree, Brice (dirs.). Department of Political Science, Ohio State University.

Freedom House. 2019. Freedom in the World 2019: Iran. Available at:

Gallagher Nancy, Ebrahim Mohseni and Clay Ramsay. 2019. Iranian Public Opinion under “Maximum Pressure”. The Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and Iran Poll. Available at: [Last accessed: May 7th 2019]

German, Kathleen M. 2014. “Social Media and Citizen Journalism in the 2009 Iranian Protests: The Case of Neda Agha-Soltan”, Journal of Mass Communication Journalism, 4 (5): 1-8. Available at:

Gheytanchi, Elham. 2015. “Gender Roles in the Social Media World of Iranian Women”, in David M. Faris and Babak Rahimi (eds.), Social media in Iran: politics and society after 2009. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Gil de Zúñiga, Homero, Nakwon Jung and Sebastián Valenzuela. 2012. “Social media use for news and individuals’ social capital, civic engagement and political participation”, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, (17) 3: 319-336. Available at:

Gleason, Benjamin. 2013. “# Occupy Wall Street: Exploring informal learning about a social movement on Twitter”, American Behavioral Scientist, 57 (7): 966-982. Available at:

Global Digital Report. 2020. Digital 2020: Iran. Available at: [Last accessed:May 7th 2019].

Howard, Philip. N., Sheetal D. Agarwal and Muzammil M. Hussain. 2011. “When Do States Disconnect Their Digital Networks? Regime Responses to the Political Uses of Social Media”, The Communication Review, 14 (3): 216-232. Available at:

Iran Media Program. 2014. Liking Facebook in Tehran: Social Networking in Iran. Available at: [Last accessed: 30 April 2020].

Jost, John T., Pablo Barberá, Richard Bonneau, Melanie Langer, Megan Metzger, Jonathan Nagler, Joanna Sterling and Joshua Tucker. 2018. “How social media facilitates political protest: Information, motivation, and social networks”, Political psychology, 39 (11): 85-118. Available at:

Kadivar, Jamileh. 2015. “A Comparative Study of Government Surveillance of Social Media and Mobile Phone Communications during Iran’s Green Movement (2009) and the UK Riots (2011)”, Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, 13 (1): 169-191. Available at: 10.31269/vol13iss1pp169-191.

Ketabchi, Kaveh, Masoud Asadpour and Seyed Amin Tabatabaei. 2013. “Mutual influence of Twitter and postelection events of Iranian presidential election”, Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 100 (40): 40-56. Available at:

Kurtz, Howard. 1995. “Webs of Political Intrigue: candidates, media looking for internet Constituents”, Washington Post, 13-11-95. Available at: [Consulted: 22 May 2019].

Kurun, Ismail. 2017. “Iranian Political System: ‘Mullocracy?’”, Journal of Management and Economics Research, 15 (1): 113-129. Available at:

Larsson, Rikard. 1993. “Case survey methodology: Quantitative analysis of patterns across case studies”, Academy of management Journal, 36 (6): 1515-1546. Disponible ena.

Levi, Margaret and Laura Stoker. 2000. “Political trust and trustworthiness”, Annual Review of Political Science, 3 (1): 475-507. Available at:

Macintosh, Ann. 2004. “Characterizing e-participation in policy-making”, in Proceedings of the 37th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, IEEE. Computer Society Press. Available at:

Margetts, Helen, Peter John, Scot Hale and Taha Yasseri. 2015. Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Available at:

McClurg, Scott D. 2003. “Social networks and political participation: The role of social interaction in explaining political participation”, Political Research Quarterly, 56 (4): 449-464. Available at:

Michaelsen, Marcus. 2015. “The Politics of Online Journalism in Iran”, in David M. Faris and Babak Rahimi (eds.), Social media in Iran: politics and society after 2009. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Michaelsen, Marcus. 2016. “Exit and voice in a digital age: Iran’s exiled activists and the authoritarian state”, Globalizations, 15 (2): 248-264. Available at:

Milani, Abbas. 2015. “The Authoritarian Resurgence: Iran’s Paradoxical Regime”, Journal of Democracy, 26 (2): 52-60. Available at:

Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos and Elden Wiebe. 2010. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Available at:

Mossberger, Karen, Caroline J. Tolbert and Ramona S. McNeal. 2008. Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society and Participation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Available at:

Payvand. 2009. Iran’s elections topped Twitter’s list of most popular topics of 2009. Available at: [Last accessed: 25 July 2019].

Pakravan, Rudabeh. 2012. “Territory Jam: Tehran”, Places Journal, July. Available at:

Papan-Matin, Firoozeh. 2014. “Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1989 Edition)”, Iranian Studies, 47 (1): 159-200. Available at:

Pejman Abdolmohammadi and Giampiero Cama. 2015. “Iran as a Peculiar Hybrid Regime: Structure and Dynamics of the Islamic Republic”, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 42 (4): 558-578. Available at:

Quinn, Michelle. 2018. “One Difference Between 2009 vs 2018 Iran Protests? 48 Million Smartphones”, VOA, 03-01-18. Available at: [Last accessed: April 28th 2019].

Rainie, Lee, Aaron Smith, Henry Brady and Sidney Verba. 2012. Social Media and Political Engagement. Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. Available at:

Rajavi, Maryam. 2018. “These Iranian Protests are Different From 2009”, WSJ, 08-01-18. Available at: [Last accessed: June 15th 2019].

RSF-Reporters without Borders. 2020. World Press Index. Available at: [Last accessed: 2 May 2020].

Reuter, Ora. J. and David Szakonyi. 2013. “Online Social Media and Political Awareness in Authoritarian Regimes”, British Journal of Political Science, 45 (1): 29-51. Available at:

Romano, David. 2006. “Conducting research in the Middle East’s conflict zones”, Political Science and Politics, 39 (3): 439-441. Available at:

Saidi, Mike. 2018. “More Protests, No Progress: the 2018 Iran Protests”, Critical Threats, 28-11-18. Available online: [Last accessed: August 15th 2019].

Schmid, Peter D. 2002. “Expect the unexpected: A religious democracy in Iran”, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, 9 (2): 181-196.

Siraki, Garineh K. 2018. “The Role of Social Networks on Socialization and Political Participation of Political science Students of Islamic Azad University, South Tehran Branch (2007-2017)”, Preprints, 1-20. Available at:

SimilarWeb. 2019. Top websites ranking. Available at: [Last accessed: May 5th 2020].

Skoric, Marko M. and Nathaniel Poor. 2013. “Youth engagement in Singapore: The interplay of social and traditional media”, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 57 (2): 187-204. Available at:

Smith, Aaron, Kay L. Schlozman, Sidney Verba and Henry E. Brady. 2009. “The Internet and Civic Engagement”, Pew Research Center, 01-09-09. Available at: [Last accessed: April 16th 2019].

Sung, Wookjoon and Changki Jang. 2020. “Does Online Political Participation Reinforce Offline Political Participation?: Using Instrumental Variable”, in Proceedings of the 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Available at:

Szmolka, Inmaculada. 2017. “Successful and Failed Transitions to Democracy”, in Inmaculada Szmolka (ed.), Political Change in the Middle East and North Africa: After the Arab Spring. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Available at:

Tazmini, Ghoncheh. 2009. Khatami’s Iran: the Islamic Republic and the turbulent path to reform. London and New York: IB Tauris. Available at:

The Economist. 2018. Iran is in turmoil but the clerics and their allies remain entrenched. Available at: [Last accessed:May 15th 2020]

The Economist. 2019. Democracy Index 2019. Available at:

Tusa, Feliz. 2013. “How Social Media Can Shape a Protest Movement: The Cases of Egypt in 2011 and Iran in 2009”, Arab Media and Society, 7: 1-19.

Vatanka, Alex. 2015. “The Authoritarian Resurgence: Iran Abroad.”, Journal of Democracy 26 (2): 61-70. Available at:

Verba, Sidney, Kay L. Schlozman and Henry E. Brady. 1995. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Vitak, Jessica, Paul Zube, Andrew Smock, Caleb T. Carr, Nicole Ellison and Cliff Lampe. 2011. “It’s complicated: Facebook users’ political participation in the 2008 election”, CyberPsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14 (3): 107-114. Available at:

Wakabi, Wairagala and Åke Grönlund. 2019. “When SNS use doesn’t trigger e-participation: case study of an African Authoritarian Regime.”, in Yoshino Woodard White (ed.), Civic Engagement and Politics: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications. Pennsylvania: IGI Global. Available at:

Wojcieszak, Magdalena and Briar Smith. 2013.“Will Politics Be Tweeted? New Media Use by Iranian Youth in 2011”, New Media and Society, 16 (1): 91-109. Available at:

World Justice Project. 2020. Rule of Law Index 2020.Available at: [Last accessed: May 11th 2020].

Xenos, Michael A, Ariadne Vromen and Brian D. Loader. 2014. “The great equalizer? Patterns of social media use and youth political engagement in three advanced democracies”, Information, Communication and Society, 17 (2): 151-167. Available at:

Yucesou, Tayfun and Burak Karabulut. 2019. “Iranians Revolution’s Demands under the Shadow of Spiral of Silence: A Content Analysis of Twitter Messages in Iranian Mass Movement”, Global Media Journal: Turkish Edition, 9 (18): 48-70.

Zaccara, Luciano. 2012. “The 2009 Iranian presidential elections in comparative perspective”, in Anoushiravan Ehteshami and Reza Molavi (eds.), Iran and the international system. New York: Routledge.

Zhang, Weiwu, Thomas J. Johnson, Trent Seltzer and Shannon L. Bichard. 2010. “The Revolution Will be Networked: The Influence of Social Networking Sites on Political Attitudes and Behavior”, Social Science Computer Review, 28 (1): 75-92.

Zogby, James. 2011. Social media and the Arab Spring. Zogby Research Services. Available at: [Last accessed: May 14th 2020].



Cómo citar

da Silva Nogueira, D., & Papageorgiou, M. (2020). Standing still or ascending in the social media political participation ladder? Evidence from Iran. Revista Española De Ciencia Política, (53), 13–39.