Towards a historical sociology of the arab uprising: Beyond democratization and post-democratization

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Arab Uprising has once again exposed Middle East experts to criticism and inspired calls for a rethinking of the theoretical approaches widely employed for understanding ‘political development’ in the region. During the 1990s those seduced by the ‘transition paradigm’ had proved overly credulous about prospects of democratization in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), inspiring a post-democratization reaction in the 2000s; but the champions of the latter have themselves now been exposed as overly credulous about the stability of the region’s authoritarian regimes. Does the Arab Uprising revalidate democratization theory (DT) or does the tardiness and likely fragility of current democratization efforts validate post-democratization approaches (PDT)? This chapter reviews the relevance of rival approaches to understanding the Arab Uprising. It acknowledges that DT helps to identify the origins of pressures for democratization from below and that PDT identifies the techniques by which authoritarian regimes have managed these pressures. However, it will also argue that both theories, fixated on a simplistic authoritarian-democratic dichotomy, neglect the complexity of political regimes and how the struggle of social forces over state power shapes them. A historical sociology approach can incorporate and impart to the democratization debate a much greater explanatory richness. © 2015 Larbi Sadiki, editorial and selection matter; individual chapters, the contributors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of the Arab Spring: Rethinking Democratization
EditorsLarbi Sadiki
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-041552391-2
ISBN (Print) 978-131765004-1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Historical Sociology
  • Arab Uprising


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