Socioeconomic Protests and Political Transformation: Dynamics of Contentious Politics in Egypt and Tunisia Against the Background of South American Experiences

Socioeconomic grievances were among the major forces driving the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. Since the ousting of the dictators, however, political debates have focused on political institutions, questions of identity and civil-military relations even though both countries continue to contend with socioeconomic protests. This project analyzes the neglected socioeconomic dimension of the ongoing transformation process in Egypt and Tunisia. It studies the dynamics of contentious politics, i.e., the interaction of protest groups and political actors, in this issue area. A focused analysis of South American countries and their diverse experiences in dealing with political change and socioeconomic contention will serve to inform and orient the in-depth analysis of the Arab cases.

Building on comparative research on political transformation processes and the theoretical framework of contentious politics developed by Charles Tilly, Sidney Tarrow and colleagues, the research team consisting of Middle East and Latin American experts from Egypt, Germany and Tunisia will analyze to what extent and how socioeconomic contention shapes the ongoing process of political transformation in Egypt and Tunisia.


In order to answer this research question, the project will:
(1) empirically assess socioeconomic protests since the fall of Ben Ali and Mubarak, including the issues being contested and the actors involved;
(2) analyze political reactions to socioeconomic contention, including the ways in which regimes deal with contentious actors and modify their economic policies;
(3) study the resulting dynamics of contentious politics – i.e., the patterns of interaction between the state and contentious actors;
(4) identify the effects of socioeconomic contention on the overall process of political transformation, focusing specifically on the implications for political participation and institutional representation as well as on effects in terms of political responsiveness and social justice.

In each step of the research process the project will systematize South American experiences (based on secondary literature), conduct in-depth studies on the contemporary situation in Egypt and Tunisia (based on original research), compare the two Arab cases, and draw general conclusions from the inter-regional comparison. Finally, the project will also identify future scenarios for Egypt and Tunisia and develop policy recommendations regarding not only social and political actors in the two countries but also external actors, and present in detail how they could contribute to building an inclusive and peaceful order in Egypt and Tunisia.

The project is carried out in cooperation with Dr. Amr El Shobaki, Dr. Nadine Abdalla and Nayera Abdel Rahman of the Arab Forum for Alternatives, Egypt, and Dr. Amor Boubakri, Dr. Bassem Karray and Samiha Hamdi of the University of Sfax, Tunisia.

The Volkswagen Foundation promotes the project for three years.

 

 

1
Stabilisierung durch Freihandel? | 2017

Schröder, Jonas/Weipert-Fenner, Irene (2017): Stabilisierung durch Freihandel? Die Europäische Nachbarschaftspolitik und ihre Folgen für den sozialen Frieden in Tunesien, PRIF Spotlight 3/2017, Frankfurt/M.

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2
The Quest for Social Justice in Tunisia. Socioeconomic protest and political democratization post 2011 | 2017

Vatthauer, Jan-Philipp/Weipert-Fenner, Irene (2017): The Quest for Social Justice in Tunisia. Socioeconomic protest and political democratization post 2011, PRIF Report No. 143, Frankfurt/M.

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3
Die soziale Frage in Tunesien | 2017

Vatthauer, Jan-Philipp/Weipert-Fenner, Irene (2017): Die soziale Frage in Tunesien. Sozioökonomische Proteste und politische Demokratisierung nach 2011, HSFK-Report Nr. 3/2017, Frankfurt/M.

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4
Egyptian parliamentary elections and the political path, AFA Papers Alternatives | 2017

Arab Forum for Alternatives (2017): Egyptian parliamentary elections and the political path, AFA Papers Alternatives, (Arabic Version on the AFA Website).

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6
Unemployed Movements in the Global South | 2016

Weipert-Fenner, Irene/Wolff, Jonas (2016): Unemployed Movements in the Global South. The cases of Argentina and Tunisia, PRIF Working Papers No. 32, Frankfurt/M.

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7
From Driver of Change to Marginalized Actor: Egypt’s New Unionism from a Comparative Perspective | 2016

Abdalla, Nadine/Wolff, Jonas (2016): From Driver of Change to Marginalized Actor: Egypt’s New Unionism from a Comparative Perspective, PRIF Working Papers No. 31, Frankfurt/M.

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8
Socioeconomic contention and post-revolutionary political change in Egypt and Tunisia | 2015

Irene Weipert-Fenner/Jonas Wolff, Socioeconomic contention and post-revolutionary political change in Egypt and Tunisia: A research agenda, PRIF Working Papers No. 24, Frankfurt/M., 2015.

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9
Making the Crisis Visible | 2015

Irene Weipert-Fenner, Making the Crisis Visible. A Reassessment of the Parliament in the Mubarak Regime, in: Larbi Sadiki (Hg.), Routledge Handbook of the Arab Spring. Rethinking Democratization, London/New York (Routledge), 2015, S. 215-227.

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10
Die offene soziale Frage und der politische Transformationsprozess in Ägypten | 2014

Irene Weipert-Fenner, Die offene soziale Frage und der politische Transformationsprozess in Ägypten, in: George Tamer/Hanna Röbbelen/Peter Lintl (Hg.), Arabischer Aufbruch. Interdisziplinäre Studien zur Einordnung eines zeitgeschichtlichen Phänomens, Baden-Baden (Nomos), 2014, S. 263-292.

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11
Conflict Mediation in the Middle East | 2014

Margret Johannsen/Christian Weidlich/Felix Eikenberg/Marc Finaud/Irene Weipert-Fenner, Conflict Mediation in the Middle East. Lessons from Egypt as a Mediator and Object of Mediation, Policy Brief for the Middle East Conference on a WMD/DV Free Zone No. 36, Ed. by , 2014. Online: http://academicpeaceorchestra.com/download.php?downloadid=90.

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12
Der autoritäre Sicherheitsapparat und der Kampf gegen den "islamistischen Terror" | 2014

Irene Weipert-Fenner, Der autoritäre Sicherheitsapparat und der Kampf gegen den „islamistischen Terror“: politische Gewalt in Ägypten seit 2011", in: Ines-Jacqueline Werkner/Janet Kursawe/Margret Johannsen/Bruno Schoch/Marc von Boemcken (Hg.), Friedensgutachten 2014, Münster (LIT), 2014, S. 169-179. www.friedensgutachten.de

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13
Neue Akteure, neue Prozesse - alles beim Alten? | 2014

Irene Weipert-Fenner, Neue Akteure, neue Prozesse – alles beim Alten? Über den schwierigen Umgang mit der Ambivalenz der arabischen Transformationsprozesse, in: Politische Vierteljahresschrift, Jg. 55, Nr. 1, 2014, S. 145-167.

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Partners

Arab Forum for Alternatives, Egypt
Arab Forum for Alternatives, Egypt
www.afaegypt.org/English/
University of Sfax, Tunesia
University of Sfax, Tunesia
www.uss.rnu.tn

Donors

VolkswagenStiftung
VolkswagenStiftung
www.volkswagenstiftung.de/en