Google Plus as a Contentious Field of Revolutionary Identity

The Rise and Fall of the Rightist Islamist Anti-Nuclear Deal Movement in Iran

In: Comparative Sociology
Amirhossein Teimouri University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, Illinois USA

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Social media platforms have been increasingly reinvigorating extreme movements, especially rightist movements. Utilizing unique Google Plus data, the author shows the rise and fall of the 2015 rightist anti-Nuclear Deal movement in Iran. He argues that the Google Plus platform in 2015 provided the new generation of revolutionary Islamist rightist activists with a contentious space of mobilization, enabling them to develop a new revolutionary rightist identity. This revolutionary identity and its corresponding language and discourse did not fully unfold in Iranian mainstream rightist media, even though rightist groups, compared to liberal groups, are not censored and repressed. The new generation of rightist activists perceived the Nuclear Deal as an existential threat to revolutionary principles of the country, and thus played out their outrage and identity anxieties on Google Plus. The author contends that this online outrage, due to the activists’ identity bond with the regime and the 1979 Iranian Revolution, however, did not translate into any massive offline mobilization against the Nuclear Deal. He also discusses the methodological implications of using social media data, especially the discontinuation of Google Plus.

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