We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Arab Society in Revolt

The West's Mediterranean Challenge

edited by Cesare Merlini and Olivier Roy

Publication Year: 2000

For every pithy conceptualization of complex events, there are additional lenses through which to examine them. One of the several virtues of this book is precisely that it brings different perspectives to bear on the complexity, diversity, and uncertainty of recent and current events in the Arab world. The thirteen authors concentrate on the critical social forces shaping the region —demography, religion, gender, telecommunication connectivity, and economic structures —and they are painstakingly analyzed and evaluated. —from the foreword by Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution

The Arab Spring will be remembered as a period of great change for the Arab states of North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Facing fundamental transitions in governance, these countries are also undergoing profound social, cultural, and religious changes. The European Union and the United States, caught unprepared by the uprisings, now must address the inescapable challenges of those changes. How will the West respond to these new realities, particularly in light of international economic uncertainty, EU ambivalence toward a "cohesive foreign policy," and declining U.S. influence abroad? Arab Society in Revolt explains and interprets the societal transformations occurring in the Arab Muslim world, their ramifications for the West, and possible policy options for dealing with this new world.

Arab Society in Revolt examines areas of change particularly relevant in the southern Mediterranean: demography and migration, Islamic revival and democracy, rapidly changing roles of women in Arab society, the Internet in Arab societies, commercial and social entrepreneurship as change factors, and the economics of Arab transitions. The book then looks at those cultural and religious as well as political and economic factors that have influenced the Western response, or lack of it, to the Arab Spring as well as the policy options that remain open.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (51.1 KB)

Copyright Information

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.2 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (69.2 KB)
pp. v-vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (74.4 KB)
pp. vii-ix

On December 17, 2010, a twenty-six-year-old street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi doused himself with gasoline, lit a match, and set himself on fire outside the municipal headquarters of a provincial Tunisian town. His desperate act followed persistent harassment...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (66.0 KB)
pp. xi-xii

The draft texts of the chapters of this book were first discussed in a seminar hosted by the Robert Schumann Center of Advanced Studies at European University Institute in Florence in February 2011. A second version was the object of a conference held in the Paris premises...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (115.4 KB)
pp. 1-13

In our time civil society has growing relevance in the global polity and in international relations. At the same time, it is undergoing profound and rapid change in almost every corner of the planet. People today increasingly communicate, interrelate, and enter into conflicts...

Part 1: Societal Change in the Arab Muslim World

pdf iconDownload PDF (41.1 KB)
pp. 15-143

read more

Demography, Migration, and Revolt in the Southern Mediterranean

pdf iconDownload PDF (585.7 KB)
pp. 17-46

For the people of the Mediterranean, the early 2010s will be remembered as a period of great change. In the south, Arab citizens’ claims to fundamental freedoms and dignities have toppled—or at least seriously shaken—decades-old dictatorships...

read more

2. Islamic Revival and Democracy: The Case in Tunisia and Egypt

pdf iconDownload PDF (93.6 KB)
pp. 47-52

In this short analysis of the role of the religious factor in the societal change occurring on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, it may be appropriate to begin from a point already hinted at in the Introduction. An entrenched prejudice in Western...

read more

3. The Changing Role of Women in Society

pdf iconDownload PDF (158.4 KB)
pp. 53-75

In January–February 2011, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt were overthrown by unprecedented mass mobilizations. Inspired by the Tunisian and the Egyptian revolutions, a wave of popular protest has spread to other Arab...

read more

4. Mediterranean Islamic Expression and Web 2.0

pdf iconDownload PDF (148.4 KB)
pp. 76-95

Just prior to 9/11, I completed writing a piece entitled “Islam Interactive: Mediterranean Islamic Expression on the World Wide Web” for the journal Mediterranean Politics, subsequently published in the book...

read more

5. Modern Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship as a Factor of Change

pdf iconDownload PDF (167.7 KB)
pp. 96-121

Classical modernization and political economy approaches both consider a wide array of economic agents as potential drivers for change. These actors include international agents such as foreign companies (not only trans national corporations but also smaller...

read more

6. The Economics of Arab Transitions

pdf iconDownload PDF (393.8 KB)
pp. 122-143

Lack of economic freedom in the southern Mediterranean countries played an important role in the revolutions of 2011. At the onset of the Arab Spring, the economies were characterized by high unemployment, especially among youth and women...

Part 2: Consequences and Policy Options

read more

7. Midwife or Spectator? U.S. Policies toward North Africa in the Twenty-First Century

pdf iconDownload PDF (153.7 KB)
pp. 147-168

American policymakers, academics, and pundits did not wait long to begin deconstructing the decade of events leading to 2011’s revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and to reflect upon the collective failure to predict the imminence of regional political...

read more

8. The Power of False Analogies: Misunderstanding Political Islam in a Post-Totalitarian World

pdf iconDownload PDF (126.9 KB)
pp. 169-183

“We have seen their kind before,” President George W. Bush said of those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. “They’re the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical...

read more

9. Societal Change and Political Responses in Euro-Mediterranean Relations

pdf iconDownload PDF (175.9 KB)
pp. 184-213

The European Union has long developed important and comprehensive relations with North Africa in the framework of the various initiatives it has launched and undertaken in the Mediterranean. In the context of EU external relations, the policy toward the...

read more

10. The West and the Islamist Challenge: Toward a Common Religious Market?

pdf iconDownload PDF (118.7 KB)
pp. 214-226

A key issue in relations between the West and the Middle East is religion, either defined as a faith or reduced to a culture. There is nevertheless a dissymmetry in the conception of the role played by religion in politics, both in the West and between the West and the...

read more

11. The Challenge of a Changing Arab Islam in Future Transatlantic Relations

pdf iconDownload PDF (406.5 KB)
pp. 227-252

Europe lost its global dominance during the twentieth century. The United States assumed the role of the number one world power, but with the transition into this century, it has been increasingly seen as surrendering that primacy—the extent and nature of the surrender...


pdf iconDownload PDF (81.0 KB)
pp. 253-257


pdf iconDownload PDF (94.6 KB)
pp. 259-268

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (180.7 KB)

E-ISBN-13: 9780815723974
E-ISBN-10: 0815723970
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815723967
Print-ISBN-10: 0815723962

Page Count: 268
Publication Year: 2000

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Social change -- Mediterranean Region.
  • Mediterranean Region -- Social conditions..
  • Mediterranean Region -- Economic conditions..
  • Islam and politics -- Mediterranean Region.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Mediterranean Region.
  • Mediterranean Region -- Foreign relations -- United States.
  • European Union countries -- Foreign relations -- Mediterranean Region.
  • Mediterranean Region -- Foreign relations -- European Union countries.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access