The Internet and a New Model of Global Social Revolution

Steven Dorsey
Academy for Educational Development, USA


Social scientists have long been fascinated with the phenomenon of the social revolution. A large body of social science literature has sought to define, analyze, and predict the phenomenon. Preeminent among these works is that of Theda Skocpol, a Harvard scholar whose The State and Social Revolutions has guided much of the academic discourse on this theme. The Skocpol model of the social revolution depends on the state, the geopolitical entity that is transformed by the revolutionary movement. This paper departs from the Skocpol model of social revolution to propose that the global Internet opens the way for a new type of extrastatal, global social revolution bent on creating and transforming a new global geopolitik. This new model of social revolution is based on the possibility of global communities facilitated by global Internet access. These communities form a new source of potential political power that will become at once increasingly strong and diffuse as Internet access grows throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Whether or not this potentiality is realized and turned into an active sociopolitical force depends to a large extent on the ability of the communities to organize and coalesce. The paper explores the definition of a global community and the role of the Internet in providing an essential forum for the exchange of viewpoints. The conceptual framework of a global social revolution for which Internet access is an organizational principle is developed, and the likely form of a global social revolution supported by Internet access is explored.