themes / Culture in Action

Culture in Action culture for social change

moderator: Witold Szabłowski
participants: Guy Sorman / Ganzeer  / Rachida Triki

Whether it is Europe in the late 1980’s or the current upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East, the mechanisms that spark waves of socio-political transformation are similar. Aside from economic and political factors, analysts have pointed out the important role that culture and opinion-shaping circles play in these processes.

The French intellectual Guy Sorman — author of Les Enfants de Rifaa: Musulmans et modernes (The Sons of Rifaa: Islamists and Modernists) and La solution libérale (The Liberal Solution) — claims that one of the key factors behind the current changes in North Africa is the growing level of education and the Westernization that is being brought about by the development of new media. These processes in turn are intricately tied to the culture of the internet — a culture of unrestricted access to information, its instant dissemination, and the massive popularity of social media.

How do cultural changes influence systemic transformation?

We wish to discuss whether a parallel can in fact be drawn between the democratic transition in Central Europe and the revolution at Tahrir Square, and what role new technology, particularly the internet, played in the latter events. Can the cultural change engendered by social media foster social change, and how does the image of the West, as it is portrayed in the media, affect massive social movements in the rest of the world?