The Youth and the Arab Spring: Cohort Differences and Similarities

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Michael Hoffman
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Amaney Jamal Princeton University

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The Arab Spring has been described as a youth rebellion driven by grievances about unemployment and dissatisfaction with existing regimes. In this article, we assess these claims by examining the characteristics of the current youth generation in the Arab world in comparison with earlier cohorts. We find that some of the conventional assumptions about this generation—that they are less religious, more likely to be unemployed, and more likely to protest—are true, but others—that they are more supportive of secularization, more interested in politics, and more dissatisfied with their regimes—should be reconsidered. Using the first wave of the Arab Barometer survey, we discuss how patterns of political attitudes and behavior vary across cohorts, and cast doubt upon the claim that the Arab Spring was the result of an angry youth cohort that was especially opposed to the old regimes.

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