What is Happening on the Ground? A Theoretical Critical Review of the Nature and Dynamics of the 'Movements' in the So-Called 'Arab Spring' in the Light of Social Movements and Revolution Theories and Beyond
Società Italiana di Scienza Politica (SISP), Annual Conference, 2012
16 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2013
Date Written: September 14, 2012
Many terms have been used by scholars to define what has happened in Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Many of them, such as “riots”, “protests”, “uprising”, “rebellion”, “revolution,” reflect ways to understand the phenomenon both as “causes” and “outcomes”. Thus, the contribution of this study is to explore how scholars are studying the so-called "Arab Spring", through the examination of the representations of it produced by Western or West-based scholars. What labels (terms, concepts), theories (lens, approaches, factors) have been used to "name" the phenomenon and with which purpose? To answer this question, this study maps and surveys systematically the terms used by the scholars to define and explain the "Arab Spring" in journal articles between late 2010 and middle 2012. Building upon a comprehensive database of 67 journal articles, we find that articles related to the "Arab Spring" have been softly increasing since 2011. The mapping also reveals that the “Arab Spring” remains the most frequently used label, followed by “Uprising” and “Revolution”; that the relationship Arab Spring-Revolution is the core combination of label and theory; that the explanation of the phenomenon is the core aim and that the macro regional level of analysis remains predominant, followed by case studies on Egypt.
Keywords: Middle East and North Africa, Arab Spring, Revolution, mapping, uprising, protests, unruly politics
JEL Classification: Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation