A Power Transitions Perspective on Economic and Educational Equity: An Unfolding Epilogue for the Arab Spring?

By Barbre, James | International Journal of Education, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

A Power Transitions Perspective on Economic and Educational Equity: An Unfolding Epilogue for the Arab Spring?


Barbre, James, International Journal of Education


Abstract

The events of the Arab Spring have not unfolded in any final sense. As a result, social forces are moving across North Africa and the Middle East and compelling a close look at the precedent that nations have lived under. As a result of this re-examination, the social roles held by men and women are one of the many issues being looked at closely. The sense of social empowerment that will result and manifest within the national mindset is one that will challenge the precedent of a patriarchal mindset. Utilizing Power Transitions Theory as a lens through which to view Neo-Realism and social change, the argument will be made that it is in the best interests of every citizen within these separate nations to embrace educational and economic equity for women.

Keywords: Power Transitions Theory, Arab Spring, Gender Roles, Equity, Economics, Education, Precedent, Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction

1. Introduction

Events which began in Tunisia, but worked their way across North Africa and the Middle East are extraordinary to say the least. While the sentiments that inform many of the protests or conflicts at present were certainly simmering under the surface, the ultimate manner in which they will play out is not entirely clear from one nation to the next. A key set of issues that each country, regardless of the leadership, will be forced to take a more detailed examination of is that of precedent. In the context of the Tunisian Genesis Event, existing precedent has been shown to blatantly favor the few over the many. This precedent is not relegated to Tunisia, but is widespread across the region. This sense of precedent and the various cultural forms it takes is the subject of this analysis.

The concept and problem of precedent to be examined here is the ways in which societies and their culture re-invent themselves following a period of upheaval. History has shown that some groups forge ahead in a progressive sense, while others rely on conservative forms of historic nostalgia. As a result of this nostalgia, the roles and rights of many citizens can be marginalized or simply ignored.

The conceptual framework to be utilized for this analysis is that of Power Transitions Theory (Tammen, et al, 2000). The assumptions behind this theory are that as the locus of power shifts within a nation or a region, be it economically socially or politically, the different systems that nations use to it uses to organize themselves are thrown into flux. These are the characteristics of structure, dynamics, and policy (p. 5). Ultimately, the manner in which these characteristics are delivered by the various institutions to different populations will have outcomes that promote satisfaction or dissatisfaction on the part of members of the population. As institutions or individuals make the decisions that affect domestic and international policy, the outcomes of these decisions will promote a mindset that is either accepting or antagonistic. This mindset is oriented around the nature of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. One perspective (satisfaction) seeks to accept decisions made at higher policy levels, whereas the other (dissatisfaction) seeks to reject and eventually change them.

This analysis will consist of a description of Power Transitions Theory and the manner by which it relates to educational equity for women. Waltz's Theory of Neo-Realism will be used as a lens to examine the structural results of this asymmetric state of power and influence will be weighed against changes that have occurred through North Africa and the Middle East as they are reflected societally and through the results of polls that address public opinion as they are reflected in the Arab Human Development Report (2005 & 2009). For purposes of this analysis, the data gathered through these reports will apply to nations whose populations have in some way, regardless of the percentage of the participants, risen up and advocated for change. …

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