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Structure of Mobilization and Democratization: Youth Activism in Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan as Case Studies

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Title: Structure of Mobilization and Democratization: Youth Activism in Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan as Case Studies
Author: Yaghi, Mohammad
Department: Department of Political Science
Program: Political Science
Advisor: Clark, Janine
Abstract: This dissertation argues for a correlation between the dynamics of the protests at their climax and the processes of democratization in case these protests succeed. Using youth activism in Tunisia and Egypt where the protests succeeded, and in Jordan where they failed as a contrasting case study, this research shows that youth activism leads to democratization if three conditions are met at the protests’ apex: domination of autonomous youth movements, an inclusive master frame (MF), and a decentralized leadership. In doing so, the research provides an atypical narrative about the role of activists during the protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan. The primary sources that informed this research are not only based on the activists themselves, but also on the analysis of the protests videos, slogans, and documents of the youth movements. Furthermore, the research contributes to the literature on social movements in four domains. First, it reveals that the state’s use of repression and the way it uses it is a necessary condition, but is insufficient to turn a reform protest cycle into a revolution; the other necessary condition is that an autonomous opposition also must be dominant when the state uses repression. Secondly, it shows that a movement’s resources are linked more closely to its framing strategy and to its choices of the locations of the protests. Thirdly, it develops tools to measure the inclusivity and exclusivity of MFs. Finally, it provides analytical tools to study the dynamics of protests in the absence of a unified leadership. The research also arrived at three main conclusions. First, the social demands in Tunisia and Egypt were at the core of protests and poor people carried the burden of the protests. Second, activists in Tunisia and Egypt maintained unity because they did not expand on the goals of the protests. Finally, the protests in Jordan failed in part because the activists did not seek to mobilize poor Jordanians.
Date: 2015-04
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