|Title||Bloggers and the Blogosphere in Lebanon & Syria: meanings and activities|
The use of blogging and its potential effects on society and politics have been widely debated but the meanings and understandings that bloggers themselves hold about the activity have not been sufficiently explored; indeed in Lebanon and Syria they have barely been investigated at all. Through interviews with bloggers, ISPs, Internet café owners and others, as well as informal online participant observation and an online questionnaire, this thesis explores the structural and cultural variables that have allowed Lebanese and Syrian bloggers to understand and use blogs in their own
specific ways. The study not only recounts what bloggers say about themselves but investigates the structural variables that surround them, including government and institutional policy, censorship, impediments to Internet access, historical conditions under which blogging emerged, attitudes to the Internet, changing events and new entrants to blogging. By its comparative nature, the project reveals how the meanings that bloggers attach to their blogging activities and to their socialization with other bloggers are situated in the social and historical conditions under which blogging is practiced. The changing meanings blogging acquired for bloggers during the course of this research illustrated its shifting and relational attributes. Thus an unexpectedly complex array of interrelated factors is shown to contribute to the tool acquiring certain meanings and being used in specific ways. The research uncovers differing reasons between Lebanese and Syrian bloggers as to why they blog, what
socialisation with other bloggers means to them, and what marks of differentiation such as anonymity and choice of language they use to distinguish the activity of one blogger from another. Both the Lebanese and Syrian bloggers at this point belong to a collective effort of other bloggers in their own countries, but the thesis also shows the meanings of socialisation online and how it is regarded change over time.