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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Tunisia: Surprise, change and continuity. Relating actors, structures and mobilization opportunities around the 14 January 2011 revolution

Teije Hidde Donker

Type: Working Paper
Year: 2012

The following report provides an in-depth and empirically focused overview of collective mobilization before, during and after the breakdown of the Tunisian authoritarian regime in 2010-11. It focuses on the relation between changing (political) contexts and dynamics within Tunisian collective mobilization concerning the peaceful character of the protests, the use of modern media tools, the language of human rights, the role of students, labor organizations, and the Islamists. The report provides a detailed overview of the historical and structural background of the uprising and eventual revolution. It discusses resulting (political) opportunities for social mobilization- provides an overview of key actors and – eventually gives a detailed overview of actual protest events taking place throughout this period. It is argued that existing student, labor and “democratization” movements in Tunisia did not initiate protests, but did provide crucial existing structures for protests to endure and spread. The movements themselves were therefore not at the inception of the uprising, but were crucial in shaping it. Second, it is argued that so-called ‘political opportunity structures’ were completely closed at the inception of the uprising but that the subsequent opening of these structures led to a plethora of (re)mobilizing movements – actually showing that changes in political context influenced mobilization dynamics after the actual revolution of January 14th 2011.

EUI SPS - Cosmos Working Paper 2012/12

2012WP12COSMOS

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This contribution enhances our understanding of the contemporary far right by focusing on the neglected links between movements and elections within the broader context of contention.

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Exploring the case of the cocaleros of the Chapare, this article argues that more emphasis should be placed on mechanisms that are internal to the movements, such as: (a) the resonance of other political experiences at home and abroad, (b) internal struggles for ideological hegemony, and (c) the political formation of their grassroots.