Accepted Paper:

Inequality drivers for youth protests: An analysis of the Egyptian uprisings of 2011 and 2013  


Aly Khalil (IDS, University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores youth perceptions of inequality leading to the Arab Spring. It speaks to the debate on the link between inequality and inequality of power and aims to highlight perceptions of inequality among different demographics of politically active youth in Egypt during the uprisings.

Paper long abstract:

The research presented in this paper explores youth perceptions of inequality; how youth aspirations are shaped, and how these aspirations contributed to the Arab Spring movement. Previous studies analyzing inequality indicators during the time leading up to the 2011 youth movements in Egypt and Latin America, suggest that protests may have been motivated by youth perceptions of inequalities rather than actual inequalities. This study aims to capture youth perception of their agency as a factor for the mobilization of protests in Egypt. It also aims to map the most highlighted inequalities among different demographics of politically active youth during the Arab Spring. Using oral history method, participants' personal accounts of their motivation and perception of inequality-related issues are recorded. The different networks of mobilization vis-à-vis their member demographics and drivers are mapped, with the sample population creating an opportunity to better analyze participation, although not necessarily drawing proper representation. The rising expectations of Egyptian youth attributed to the economic and political liberalization that happened in the decade following 9/11, and increasing exposure to personal freedoms in developed countries from social media, fueled the demands for equality during the Arab Spring. Collectively, data presented in this paper indicates that youth participation in the 2011 and 2013 uprisings in Egypt was driven by a sense of inequality of power.

Panel L01
The dynamics of youth inequalities: aspirations, agency and multidimensional poverty (Paper)