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The Rupture in State-Society Relationships and the Prominence of Youth Activism in Egypt
Opportunities, Strategies and New Models of Mobilization

MOHAMED, AHMED,TOHAMI,ABDELHAY (2013) The Rupture in State-Society Relationships and the Prominence of Youth Activism in Egypt
Opportunities, Strategies and New Models of Mobilization.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines the development of youth activism in Egypt as key social actors during the latter years of Mubarak’s presidency (from 2000) and leading into the tumultuous events of the Revolution in January 2011.
The assessment draws on social movement theory to provide an analytical framework, specifically the political process model. It first offers an analytical narrative of the political structures which have developed within Egypt in the modern era and which have provided the structural context within which such movements have emerged and developed, notably cycles of contentious politics. The narrative identifies the impact of early Nasserist hegemony, the subsequent embedding of corporatist structures for socio-political organisation, and the inhibiting effects these had on the development of autonomous social movements until the contemporary period. Youth and Student movements remained key political actors during specific historical periods but even these were severely constrained after 1979. This provides the structural scene setting for our in-depth study of contemporary youth activism.
In attempting to explain the contemporary re-emergence of youth activism during the January Revolution, the thesis proceeds to examine the political opportunities which were presented to social movements in general, and youth activism specifically, during the era of Mubarak’s rule, and with an emphasis on the period from 2000-2010. Developments in Egypt are analysed through the ordering devices offered by SMT, including the progressive rupturing of the state-society relationship, the high level of grievances among the population, the level of institutional access, and divisions among the ruling elite. The thesis adds an additional category – the role played by transnational and external factors – which emerged as an important influence in the preceding narrative of Egyptian political development but which have traditionally been neglected by SMT.
The thesis further uses the analytical tools of SMT to examine two particular forms of youth mobilisation; the student movements and the April 6th movement. Successive chapters examine the strategic choices, organisation, framings and mobilisation strategies of these movements, drawing heavily on intensive semi- and un-structured interviewing and data collection, both in person and through the formats and devices of the social movements themselves (such as Facebook, Twitter and movement websites).
The thesis demonstrates that these youth activism are better understood as New Social Movements (NSM) rather than conventional social movements. They have developed through horizontal networking rather than vertical and hierarchical organisations. They have drawn substantially on the political opportunities offered by transnational and external factors. In both these aspects, they have made good use of new informational and communications technologies, specifically the Internet, which create communicative linkages but do not offer a clear route to the next stage of formal political organisation (explaining in part the limitations of these movements). Finally, they demonstrate the importance of generational politics in Egypt, the grievances of which lie at the core of the rupture between state and society.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Social Movements, youth activism, mobilization, Hegemony, political opportunity
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:31 Oct 2013 14:28

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