Repression and Activism among the Arab Spring’s First Movers: Morocco’s (Almost) Revolutionaries

36 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2013

Date Written: August 21, 2013


Drawing on both qualitative ethnographic fieldwork and experimental evidence from a survey using Facebook social networks, this paper examines collective action among first movers and their networks during the Arab Spring protests in Morocco. It finds that the regime’s efforts to police, suppress, and arrest political dissidents encouraged participation in or support for new protests. Specifically, the paper makes two arguments. First, it shows that activism is passed down from one generation to the next: the first movers in 2011 often came from families that suffered past human rights violations at the hands of the regime. A family history of repression increases a person’s willingness to engage in risky collective action. Second, it finds that repression during the Arab Spring was also counterproductive; information about the regime’s efforts to brutally police protests increased support for protest among first movers and their social networks. A regime that abuses its citizens’ human rights by jailing and attacking protestors creates incentives for its citizens to oppose it; these abuses can come back to haunt the regime long after repression occurs.Abstract will be provided by author.

Keywords: repression, collective action, Arab Spring, Morocco, Middle East, North Africa, Authoritarian regimes, Facebook, experiments

Suggested Citation

Lawrence, Adria, Repression and Activism among the Arab Spring’s First Movers: Morocco’s (Almost) Revolutionaries (August 21, 2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN:

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