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Durham e-Theses
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The Constitution and Re-Constitution of Citizenship: Political Change in Tunisia since 2011

STROETGES, FABIAN,JOHANNES (2021) The Constitution and Re-Constitution of Citizenship: Political Change in Tunisia since 2011. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 29 April 2024.


This thesis investigates the nature of political change in Tunisia since 2011 by exploring the constitution and re-constitution of citizenship through the prism of the country’s constitutions, their making, and implementation. Citizenship offers a framework through which to understand the significant political change that Tunisia experienced following the 2010-11 uprisings. As an expression of the social contract between citizens and the state, it is codified in constitutions, which are elaborated in constitution-making processes – in themselves expressions of the prevalent practices of citizenship.
Using a combination of textual analysis of constitutions, historical analysis of constitutions’ genesis and implementation as well as semi-structured interviews with participants and expert observers of the most recent constitution-making process, the thesis investigates the changing relationship between citizenship, constitutionalism, and constitutions beginning at the point when the social contract was first codified in a constitution in the mid-19th Century. The thesis argues that at critical junctures of the country’s history, path dependencies and particular choices militated against the establishment of equal citizenship even though the latter enjoyed support from relevant groups in society early on.
The thesis confirms the finding of previous studies that constitutions in themselves do not generate equal citizenship. It adds the finding that a political culture of strong constitutionalism such as existed in Tunisia since 1861 similarly does not generate such equality. However, it demonstrates that the 2014 constitution – emerging from a largely open participatory process – provides a framework within which practices of equal citizenship have emerged and are more likely to be sustained than in previous periods. The thesis contributes to the literature by challenging some of the easy assumptions that Tunisia’s history of constitutionalism necessarily lends itself to democratic transition.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Citizenship; Tunisia; Constitutionalism; Constitution-Making; Democracy; Democratization
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Apr 2021 14:14

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