- Authoritarian Learning and Authoritarian Resilience: Regime Responses to the 'Arab Awakening'
- Volume | Issue number
- 8 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
The spread of protests throughout the Arab world can be viewed as the product of social learning by Arab citizens—a wave effect facilitated by the rapid diffusion of ideas, discourses, and practices from one country to another and their adaptation to local contexts. Yet it less commonly recognized that Arab regimes' counter-revolutionary strategies have also been shaped by processes of learning and diffusion among regime elites, especially among those where protests began later in the sequence of events that constitute the Arab awakening. Accordingly, there have been two parallel processes at work in the unfolding and the potential unraveling of the Arab awakening: one at the level of Arab societies and the other among authoritarian regimes. Initially, the first of these processes worked to the advantage of protestors. As regimes adapted to the repertoires of contention developed by protesters and assessed the direction of regional and international trends, the advantage shifted in their direction. Several incumbents in the region became increasingly persuaded that their best bet lay in strategies of repression, and, in essence, in hunkering down and pursuing a range of measures to ride out uprisings which themselves seemed to confront diminishing probabilities of success.
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