The "street" and the politics of dissent in the Arab world

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The growing tendency of most Arab governments to try to control profest closing NGOs, banning publications or songs and arresting web designers-offers a hint of their potential to compensate for the impediments facing the Arab street. As such, street politics is not a virtue, but a necessity and an opportunity, when people are compelled to make themselves heard. Virtue lies not in mass politics, but in civil society, in the institutionalization of interest articulation and in rational dialogue. Yet the street remains the most vital locus for the audible expression of collective grievances, so long as the local regimes or the global powers ignore popularly held views. The Arab street is neither "irrational" nor "dead," but is undergoing a major transformation caused both by old constraints and new opportunities brought about by global restructuring. As a means and mode of expression, the Arab street may be shifting, but the collective grievance that it conveys remains. To ignore it is to do injustice to both moral sensibility and rational conduct of politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalMiddle East Report
Issue number226
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations

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