Religious and social movements

In the context of authoritarianism, citizens have appeared to be victims of the game for power that elites play. It’s therefore interesting to see how political power is either gained, or dissolved, by those below.

This was facilitated by social media in the context of the Arab Spring.

But not just that, they also require a lot of courage. If humans are rational agents, why would they choose to mobilise when there’s a great deal of uncertainty around the outcome?

In Egypt, there were small pockets of unrest fueled by dissatisfaction but mostly isolated among those warring parties and congealing to form the Arab Spring.

One group who had a lot to be angry about were youths. This Economist article remains a favourite, it explains the many ways Egyptian youths are beset by disillusionment.

One of the central social issues in the Arab world is the youth bulge, as the table (Wincklet, 2002) below illustrates, which spills out to form new problems:


It’s unlikely this will continue to rise, factors will push individuals away from having more children.

Cultural circumstances arranged in such a way that you’re expected to be married if you want children and to have children you’d need a job, but there aren’t many jobs of the kind that Egyptian youths have grown up to aspire to, nor many that they’ve studied for. Sound familiar?

With the Muslim Brotherhood in power; Syria in tatters; ISIS still a threat; foreign investment lacking; democratic elections in suspension and with employment prospects still as dim (Freedom House, 2018; Hicham, 2016), I do wonder whether Arab youths are better off?

Mobilising from the ground up has its advantages but it highlights for me that such a rapid change in political rule provides the opportunity for free riders to intervene, you never know what you’ll get.

Alaoui, Hicham. (2016). Is the Arab world better off, five years after the Arab spring?. Available: Last accessed 23rd March 2018.

Bayat, A. (2013).  “The Arab Spring and Its Surprises”. Development and Change, 44 (2):587-601.

The Economist. (2016). Look Forward in Anger. Available: Last accessed 23rd March 2018.

Winckler, Onn. (2002). The Demographic Dilemma of the Arab World: The Employment Aspect . Journal of Contemporary History. 37 (4)

Winckler, Onn. Rapid Population Growth and the Fertility Policies of the Arab Countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Middle Eastern Natural Environments: Yale Bulletin, p.445.

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