|Institution:||George Mason University|
|Keywords:||geography; geosocial; nation-state; polycentric nation; social media; Syria|
|Full text PDF:||http://hdl.handle.net/1920/9232|
The premise of this work is the notion that the emergence of social media is providing another challenge to Westphalian statehood as it was conceived in the 1600s. As social media support user interaction and information exchange, they lead to the establishment of cyber communities that transcend traditional state boundaries. I maintain that these cyber communities establish links and ties that evolve the concept of state from a single, well-defined unit, to its polycentric equivalent defined as the aggregate of globally distributed groups/clusters and the well-defined national core unit. This polycentric state model incorporates the emerging, borderless, world of cyberspace as a contributing element of societal change and progress, as we have witnessed so often across the world over the past few years, from Arab spring to the Ukraine. Building and analyzing such polycentric models is a prototypical geosocial analysis process, and in this dissertation I present key operations for such analysis. I do so using as a representative example the prolonged crisis in Syria and the mobilization of the international community in social media. I demonstrate how such polycentric communities are formed and evolve over time, how they react to events, and how they organize in clusters. Such an approach to analyze geopolitical events advances our analytic capabilities to monitor these situations.