International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Perspectives on the Arab Protests of 2010-2011

Fouad Bou Zeineddine, University of Connecticut; Charles Harb, American University of Beirut; Emad Shahin, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of N

Conference: ISPP 2011
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

In this presentation, we will ask each panelist to provide a 5-minute synopsis of their own observations and interpretations of the Arab protests: whether they are predicted theoretically or push theory to change, whether they can contrast different outcomes in different nations, or other implications they have for political psychology. The moderator will then invite comparisons between these contributions and proceed to ask a set of prepared questions. The discussion will address questions yet to be decided by unfolding events, as well as some of the following:

1) What would one consider the most important instigators of the uprisings to be (e.g. relative deprivation, frustration with Arab subordination, social comparison processes brought on by globalization, indigenous democratic movements)?

2) Whether events awakened a nascent sense of injustice and/or excited political efficacy, and if so, which events in particular (e.g., self-immolation acts, Obama’s Cairo speech, etc..)?

3) How and why collective action moved across borders, with special attention to the commonalities in political and socioeconomic context, the role of Arab identity, the idea of common fate in the Arab world, and the international response to this action.

4) What else do these events tell us about the complexity of Arab and national identities, and about whether Arabs are factionalizing within each country or coming together in their political desires?

5) What were the likely contextual and psychological motivators of counter-demonstrators?

6) Looking forward, were these demonstrations a sign of a permanent or a temporary shift in the Arab world towards increased political engagement and agency, and what other consequences could one predict for Arab political psychology?

7) What are the potential consequences these events could have on the political landscape of the region in the future?

8) How can these events inform us about post-colonial or post-authoritarian processes in other parts of the world?

Moderator Pratto will help ensure that alternative viewpoints and perspectives are represented. Time will be allotted for questions from the audience.