The Myth of the Youth Revolution: The Role of Young People in the 2011 Arab Uprisings

The Arab Transformations Working Paper No. 21

33 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2017

See all articles by Pamela Abbott

Pamela Abbott

School of Education, University of Aberdeen

Andrea Teti

University of Aberdeen

Roger Sapsford

University of Aberdeen

Date Written: December 9, 2017

Abstract

The story of the ‘Arab Spring’ as a revolt of young people against autocratic rule and to bring democracy to their countries is not a good fit to the available data. Younger people were indeed over-represented in comparison to the age distribution of the population as a whole, but some of those ‘identified’ as young were in fact well into middle age, in no country were a majority of the protestors younger than 35, and the introduction of procedural democracy was not the only or even the main aim of the Uprisings. There is little evidence for the ‘rising tide’ in MENA which has been expected to sweep away autocratic rule in favour of democratisation as successive younger generations became individualised, liberalised and secularised. There is partial evidence for secularisation but little for the radical change in liberal values and the growth of rights-based politics. (For the latter we take attitudes to gender equality and gendered norms as our case study.) The neoliberal ‘structural adjustment’ which MENA countries have been urged to adopt has failed to provide a basis for such a normative change, failing either to generate the jobs which would have turned the ‘youth bulge’ into an economic ‘youth dividend’ or to establish an independent middle class within which liberalisation of norms and values leads to the demand for democracy.

Keywords: Youth, Arab Uprisings, Generaltional change, Democratisation, Political, social and Economic Rights, Gender Equality, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morooco, Tunisia, Corruption

JEL Classification: Z10, Z13, Z18, Z19

Suggested Citation

Abbott, Pamela and Teti, Andrea and Sapsford, Roger, The Myth of the Youth Revolution: The Role of Young People in the 2011 Arab Uprisings (December 9, 2017). The Arab Transformations Working Paper No. 21, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3085160 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3085160

Pamela Abbott (Contact Author)

School of Education, University of Aberdeen ( email )

Aberdeen, Scotland
United Kingdom

Andrea Teti

University of Aberdeen ( email )

Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/socsci/people/profiles/a.teti

Roger Sapsford

University of Aberdeen ( email )

Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
201
Abstract Views
1,227
rank
183,810
PlumX Metrics