The uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) were primarily centered on profound economic grievances, which protestors addressed directly to state institutions, thereby making the grievances political. As a political scientist, I ask: under what conditions does economic protest transform into political demands? How and why did this happen in the MENA region, and why now? A deep exploration of authoritarian state institutions will be necessary to understand how a young generation that graduated from public educational institutions was unable to find economic opportunities and eventually lost all trust in an inefficient and corrupt state. Workers’ protests and resistance movements had started to organize in the decade before the uprisings and need to be studied as well.
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