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José Ciro Martínez

This article explores the importance and impact of a set of actions through which bakers manipulate laws and regulations that seek to organize and regulate how they do business. It builds on eighteen months of fieldwork conducted in Jordan, twelve of which were spent working in three different bakeries in the capital, Amman. Moving away from the idea that public policies are simply imposed, the article looks in detail at the social relations through which they are enacted. By honing in on the bakery, and examining arrangements between bakery owners, workers, consumers and ministerial employees, it illuminates modes of political agency that escape conventional binaries of domination/resistance, state/society and legality/illegality. I argue against seeing these practices as easily categorized forms of resistance or frivolous acts of corruption. Nor are they simply reinforcements of hegemonic control. Instead, ‘tactics’ at the bakery subvert the order of things to serve other ends. Foregrounding them in this analysis seeks not only to challenge views of power relations as strictly binary but to elucidate some of the ways in which citizens inhabit and engage with the neoliberal and authoritarian logics that pervade everyday life in Jordan.

Kressen Thyen

Why do some authoritarian governments respond beneficently to political protest while others opt for repression? This article argues that beneficent government responses in the form of concessions or institutional inclusion are fostered by three interrelated mechanisms working at three distinct levels: institutionalization of political protest within the polity, external certification of protest demands by legally legitimized authorities, and interest polarization between protesting groups and the government. Empirical comparison of government responses to youth protests before and during the 2011 uprisings in Morocco and Egypt proves that the divergent strategies in the two countries were not the result of spontaneous decision-making in times of heightened regime contention. Rather, they mirror established patterns of protest politics that are relatively resistant to ad-hoc manipulations. By extending the focus beyond a particular episode of contention, this study offers important insights into government-challenger relations in authoritarian regimes.

Annabelle Houdret, Zakaria Kadiri and Lisa Bossenbroek

The social contract, as the basis of the relations between rulers and populations in the Maghreb region, is highly contested especially since 2011. However, the rural dimension of this phenomenon remains yet under researched. Building on related emerging critical studies, this paper coins the term of a ‘rural social contract’ and analyses what it embodies. It highlights how the unequal ownership and use of water and land resources contribute to the marginalization of the large majority of rural populations and to their growing discontent. The article argues that three trends currently contribute to the re-articulation of the social contract in rural areas. Firstly, overexploitation and climate change lead to a severe degradation of water and land resources which challenges the established patterns of use and redistribution of these resources. Secondly, agricultural policies focusing on export production and on large entrepreneurs lead to further marginalization of small farmers. Thirdly, the emergence of new rural actors challenge the established social relationships. On the basis of this analysis, the article frames the major challenges, dynamics and characteristic of a newly emerging rural social contract in the Maghreb.

Torki A. Alshubaiki


Closing the door of ijtihād or independent reasoning in the 10th century resulted in a legal system that was often at odds with the modern world, especially in the area of contracts. Although it is considered to be a big breakthrough at the present time that some of the religious figures or ulama in Saudi Arabia have finally expressed their interest in the codification of laws, the issue has to be dealt with from a different, not only religious, perspective. The importance of comparative law must be expressed when dealing with all commercial matters. Promoting and encouraging intellectual curiosity in different legal areas through academic institutions and research centres will drive the scholars to study the commercial law subjects from a number of different perspectives. In that process, they will develop a better understanding of their own system and know the way of developing it.