A region without “spring”: a tenacious tale of poverty, inequality and precarity

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2017


A region without “spring”: a tenacious tale of poverty, inequality and precarity(Abstract)


Dina Mansour-Ille


Throughout the history of humanity, the continuity - and what seems to be the inevitability - of inequality within human communities has been repeatedly observed, commented on and criticized by philosophers, historians, and, in recent years, social scientists. Despite a series of uprisings that swept the region, countries of the Arab world still suffer from severe poverty coupled with state repression, conflict and displacement, military control, and an environment that fosters inequality. From the Maghreb to the Mashreq, inequality manifests itself both horizontally and vertically across state-society relations and within societies themselves. “Bread, liberty, and social justice”, the main slogans of the “Arab Spring”, represented the struggles of inequality that were felt across various social strata in countries across the region. Both the haves and have-nots met in one moment of change and called for the end of corruption, despotism, and the hegemony of a state that abused their basic rights. Yet the history and contextual reality of a region largely built on suppressing “difference” ended up producing different forms of inequalities that manifested themselves in other forms of injustice. This paper aims to shed light on the changing understanding and perception of “equality” and “inequality” within the context of the Arab region before and after the “Arab Spring” uprisings.