The myth of the Arab Spring

Oct 19, 2011

New research shows true picture of what and who is behind the political uprisings.

The western media tends to portray the political uprisings in the as being broadly motivated by similar reasons and led by similar groups of tech-savvy young people, but surveys of people in the region paint a very different picture, a leading Cambridge researcher will tell a debate on the Arab Spring next week.

Glen Rangwala, a lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies, will tell a debate on the Arab Spring at this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas that although the idea of the ‘Arab Spring’ is accepted by a large proportion of people in Arab countries, the reasons they are aligning themselves with it are very different and have grown more diverse the longer it has gone on. The debate is supported by Research Councils UK (RCUK) Global Uncertainties programme.

POLIS has conducted a survey with pollsters YouGov which monitors evolving popular opinion across 18 Arab countries throughout 2011. The poll uses a mix of internet-based polling and door-to-door surveys and tracks how the answers have changed since the early days of the Arab Spring.

The poll shows people’s political priorities ranged widely across the region. In Bahrain, the aspiration for civic equality has been the overriding theme around which national views have converged. In Syria, the freedoms of speech and of association dominate, although these two themes barely register in other Arab countries. In Tunisia and Egypt, the first two countries in which long-established governments were overthrown, the research shows personal security has come to dominate popular concerns, among both those who strongly supported the national revolutions and the small proportion who remain unsure of its benefits. Declining personal incomes are central to the support in Yemen for the protest movement.

In most Arab countries, Rangwala says the poll found those who support the Arab Spring most strongly also reported real or anticipated increases in their personal incomes so a financial motive was also evident. Interestingly, in view of media coverage, the poll showed over 35s are slightly more likely to take part in protests than younger people; concern over unemployment is most consistently expressed in countries that have not experienced significant protests so far; and use of the Internet for organising protests varied enormously across the region.

Rangwala says what clearly emerges from the research is the idea of a series of uprisings with different grievances, often different types of participants, and quite distinct types of political aspirations.

He adds: “What appears to unite them is the very idea of the Arab Spring, within which supporters, activists and even opponents of political reform contextualise the protests they see in their own countries. If people identify their national protest movements with the broader region-wide phenomenon of the Arab , the perceived success of a civic uprising in one country will reinforce the estimations of the likelihood of similar achievements at home.”

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User comments : 9

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Myno
5 / 5 (1) Oct 19, 2011
Aside from the use of polling statistics, how is this related to science?
Doug_Huffman
2 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2011
Read Edwin Taylor Jaynes' Probability Theory, section 5.3 'Converging and diverging views' on the issue of credibility in reportage. For the waay back story. Jaynes writes on Bayesian inference and epistemology as a physicist.

Reporters of all sorts become ever more hyperbolic while not understanding that news has the opposite effect of that desired by the incredible reporter.
ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2011
In another perspective, they have determined the spravka of the new pravda works...
IlliterateGraduate
5 / 5 (2) Oct 19, 2011
@Myno,

It is under the "other sciences - social sciences " section
kaasinees
1 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2011
Aside from the use of polling statistics, how is this related to science?

How are statistics science?

Isn't there a saying that goes? From whom is this quote.
There are lies, damned lies and statistics.
wiyosaya
not rated yet Oct 19, 2011
Aside from the use of polling statistics, how is this related to science?

How are statistics science?

Isn't there a saying that goes? From whom is this quote.
There are lies, damned lies and statistics.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics
that_guy
not rated yet Oct 19, 2011
I honestly expected to learn something here. I don't feel like I did.

If you took the news at face value, every arab person has a facebook and twitter account. Only a minority of arabs even have the internet, which means that even this study can suffer from a type of observational bias.

But yeah, why would you expect the arab spring to be a monolithic, unipolar movement? That is the opposite of freedom. It doesn't take a scientist to realize that if the uniting theme is freedom/and or democracy, that by nature of the theme, the groups will be diverse...
Ethelred
not rated yet Oct 20, 2011
http://en.wikiped...atistics
Its part of mathematics, which is the language of science. The only problem with statistics in science is the high level of ignorance in both many of the scientists and the general public.

http://en.wikiped...atistics

Ethelred
Discharge
not rated yet Oct 23, 2011
After the 1998 Serbian revolution the leaders of the Optor! party, Sra Popovi and Ivan Marovi, created a compagny called CANVAS which creates peacefull revolutions on demand. They started and have been involved in many such revolutions around the world. That CANVAS has a large part to play in the spread and succes of the Arab spring revolutions has been confirmed by one of the compagnies heads and you could say that the fact, the list of Arab springs countries and the list of wanted regime change in the middle eastern area by the U.S. government are almost the same is more than coinsidental.

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