Civil Society and the Rise of Unconventional Modes of Youth Participation in the MENA

In: Middle East Law and Governance

Why are there variances in young people’s civic and political participation in the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings, and what are the implications of these types of participatory modes on authoritarian rule in the region? Based on quantitative and qualitative fieldwork from five countries in the Middle East – Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon – this paper demonstrates that young people in the region are increasingly drawn to independent and unconventional forms of participation to varying degrees, depending on each country’s authoritarian structure and institutional arrangements. Though the rise of unconventional participation is a manifestation of the presence of a vibrant Arab street, these participatory modes lead to civil society’s weakness and fragmentation. This adds to the volatility of new civic and political actors and provides the regimes with more authoritarian strategies for resilience.