Open Issue

The revolution that never took place: episodic framing of political repression and unrest in Egypt



The purpose of this paper is to assess the role of both the mass media and the social media in supporting the protesters in Tahrir Square in spring 2011, and to challenge the claim that the new social media created an alternative public sphere (Castells 1997) that empowered the Egyptian protesters by portraying them in a positive light, thereby precipitating ‘the end of a 30-year autocratic regime’ (Harlow and Johnson 2011).The distinction between episodic frames and thematic frames is crucial in this investigation: episodic frames being defined as those that depict public issues ‘in terms of concrete instances’ and thematic frames as those that place ‘public issues in some more general or abstract context’ and that present these issues in terms of ‘general outcomes and conditions’ (Iyengar 1991: 14). This episodic-thematic distinction suggests that episodic coverage of the Tahrir protests provided limited insight into the limited success of these protests, and that thematic interpretations did not provide sufficient insight into the endemic nature of repression in Egyptian society.


Arab SpringEgyptRevolutionSocial MediaNews Frame
  • Issue: 6
  • DOI: 10.18573/j.2014.10288
  • Published on 1 Nov 2014