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  • Author: Khalilollah Sardarnia
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research (CSR)
  • Abstract: The prevailing outlook among analysts before the advent of the recent social movements in North Africa and a number of Arab Middle Eastern countries indicated that the region will continue to resist the wave of democratization. The fall of several authoritarian regimes and continuity of social movements has generated serious doubts in this outlook, leading to the appearance of promising horizons for democratization. This paper argues that these social movements originate from the exacerbating legitimacy crisis of authoritarian governments and rising political, social and economic dissatisfaction of the general public, including the youth and the modern middle class. This work seeks to answer the question: what are the major sociological origins and precipitating factors influencing the advent of social movements in the Middle East and North Africa? In response, it can be argued that the advent of social movements in a number of Middle East and North African countries is rooted in the legitimacy crisis, as well as rising political, social and economic dissatisfaction of the general public, the youth and the modern middle class in recent decades. The web-based social networks and cell phones acted as precipitating factors in the massive mobilization and integration of mass protests and those of the modern middle class and the fall of a number of authoritarian regimes. These movements are notably characterized by being comprehensive, Islamic, democratic, anti-despotic, independence-seeking, and highly reliant on new information and communications technologies. The web-based social networks served as a precipitating factor in massive mobilization of the aforementioned strata within the context of an exacerbated legitimacy crisis and the gap between the state and the society rather than as a structural deep-rooted factor.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Government, Islam, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa