To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The speed, spread, and democratic thrust of Arab revolutionary uprisings conjure up the revolutionary waves of 1848 and 1989 in Europe. Spearheaded by educated youth, the Arab uprisings have been brought to fruition by the masses of ordinary people (men, women, Muslims, and non-Muslims) who have mobilized at an astonishing scale against authoritarian regimes in pursuit of social justice, democratic governance, and dignity. If this broad observation is valid, then these social earthquakes are likely to unsettle some of the most enduring perspectives on the region. To begin with, they should undermine “Middle East exceptionalism,” with its culturalist focus informed by assumptions of “stagnant culture,” “fatalist Muslims,” and “unchangeable polity.” In political science, students of “regime stability” and the “authoritarian resiliency” of Arab states may have to reevaluate their conceptual premises. The analytical relevance of the concept of “rentier state” as the political basis of authoritarian stability might likewise need serious reformulation. The blatant cash handouts by some Arab Gulf states to “buy opposition” during the wave of protests in February and March 2011 do not seem to have worked.
Why did Iran of the late 1970s with a thriving economy, wealthy middle class, repressive political system, massive military might, and powerful international allies go through an Islamic revolution, while Egypt of the early 1990s with similar international allies, but poorer economy, impoverished large middle classes, and a more liberal political system did not go beyond developing an Islamist movement?In 1978 the per-capita income in Iran was $2,400, compared to $660 in Egypt in 1988. During the 1970s, some 15 percent of Tehran's population lived in the squatter areas (and about 15 percent in slums), whereas this figure for Cairo in the early 1990s was 50 percent.
This article is about social activism and its relationship to social development in the Middle
East. It examines the myriad strategies that the region's urban grass-roots pursue to defend
their rights and improve their lives in this neo-liberal age. Prior to the advent of the
political–economic restructuring of the 1980s, most Middle Eastern countries were largely
dominated by either nationalist-populist regimes (such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan,
Turkey) or pro-Western rentier states (Iran, Arab Gulf states). Financed by oil or remittances,
these largely authoritarian states pursued state-led development strategies, attaining remarkable
(21% average annual) growth rates.1 Income from oil offered the rentier states the
possibility of providing social services to many of their citizens, and the ideologically driven
populist states dispensed significant benefits in education, health, employment, housing, and the
like.2 For these post-colonial regimes, such provision of social welfare was
necessary to build popularity among the peasants, workers, and middle strata at a time that these
states were struggling against both the colonial powers and old internal ruling classes. The state
acted as the moving force of economic and social development on behalf of the populace.
Current debates about the status of middle east studies are informed by an assumption that separates ‘area studies’ from ‘global studies,’ and ‘area specialization’ from disciplinary or theoretical orientation. Arguing against such separation, I propose that a resort to comparative perspectives may help bridge the divide. To this end, I discuss imperatives and modalities of thinking comparatively in the context of the Middle East, and their implications for bringing other areas into comparative inquiries. Focusing on illustrations from Middle East social studies, I attempt to think through my own, albeit limited, experience of comparative research within the Middle East region.
This article chronicles the genesis, process and forms of collective protests by the unemployed in Iran immediately following the revolution of 1979. It analyzes the dynamics of jobless mobilization in demanding employment and social protection by exploring its complex relationships with the Islamic government, the opposition forces and the broader revolutionary process. In developing countries, an organized struggle of the unemployed for jobs and protection is extremely rare, notwithstanding high rates of open and concealed joblessness. Family, kinship, patron-client relationships and especially the informal sector provide essential mechanisms for protection and survival; lack of ‘organization generally prevents the emergence of sustained protest movements. I argue that the conjuncture-based articulation of resources and political opportunity underlying the movement set the Iranian case apart. The resources included the post-revolutionary massive and sudden loss of jobs along with the rise of a revolutionary ideology among the jobless.