Traditional Societies and Modern Politics; New Processes of Mobilization and Political Participation in the Arab World, ARI/IDRC Conference, Beirut

epa05037181 Egyptian voters line up outside a polling station to vote in the second and final round of voting in the parliamentary elections, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, 22 November 2015. Egyptians headed to the polls on 22 November for the second and final round of voting in the country's first parliamentary elections since the army's 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Polling stations were set to open in 13 of Egypt's 27 provinces, including Cairo, for two consecutive days. © EPA - Ali Almalky

The injection of politics into the public space is producing a process of change in Arab societies.

Rather, these societies are developing new processes and patterns of political mobilisation with the aim of realizing social and economic needs, which have largely been unmet by traditional political players. Such processes include fluid ‘rainbow’ coalitions of very diverse actors coming together to experiment joint action on specific issues, informal protest movements by trade unions, NGOs and citizens’ groups, through such actions as strikes, demonstrations and petitions.

This conference will deal with some of the following key questions: How are traditional forces engaging in the political process? Who are the political players promoting political, social and economic reform? Are the Islamists still the odd player or have they changed to be part of the mainstream? What are the different models of what is now called ‘new politics’? In what areas and on what issues are these new practices of politics being played out? What impact, if any, is the injection of politics having on states and on societies? And will these ‘new politics’ lead to a real process of reform and change in Arab societies?