Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Beyond the Arab Spring: The Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East

Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Beyond the Arab Spring: The Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East

Article excerpt

Kamrava, Mehran. editor. Beyond the Arab Spring: The Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East. new York: oxford university Press, 2014. 480 pages. Paper $30.00

This volume consists of an introduction and 15 chapters divided into two parts. Part 1, "Contextualize the Arab Spring" consists of 6 chapters, and the following 9 chapters (chapters 7-15) are case studies of various countries in the region.

The introduction and the first chapter, written by the volume's editor, set the framework of the book, who argues that up to the break out of the Arab Spring in 2011, "much of the scholarship on politics in the Middle East concentrated on the endurance of authoritarianism, notwithstanding what could be described as something of an 'Arab Spring' in early 2005" (pp. 1-2). Based on this polemical thesis, the editor explains why scholars of the Middle East were caught off-guard when the Arab Spring broke out due to assumptions and frameworks that governed a robust body of literature.

According to the volume's introduction, the "Arab Spring" provoked debates around assumptions regarding the region's domestic politics, particularly those assumptions regarding "the durability of authoritarianism in the Middle East and the remarkable resilience of the region's political systems" (p. 2). In both Middle Eastern monarchies and republics, the old thesis contends that a "ruling bargain emerged between the governed and those governing that aimed to consolidate state-society relationships and maintaining various forms of authoritarian rule" (p. 2). The political rule simply required citizens to surrender their rights and accept the legitimacy of the regime in return for services and socio-economic benefits. …

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