Theses Doctoral

The Material Politics of Revolution and Counter-Revolution: Labor Organization, Autonomy and Democratization in Egypt (2011-2016)

Hefny, Mostafa

This is a study of democratization in Egypt through the lens of labor organization in the period following the fall of Hosni Mubarak. As a vehicle for collective action that is perpendicular to the Islamist-secular divide, labor organization produced cross-cutting cleavages that transcended intractable identity-based divisions. The suspension of prior constraints on political mobilization opened up spaces for the construction of autonomous working class organizations. An important subset of democratization theory has emphasized the role of working class organizations and political conflict over resource allocation in the institutionalization of democratic orders. The double-negative of the non-emergence of an autonomous organization of the working class and the failure of democratic transition in Egypt steers this study away from a macro-level assessment of the impact of labor autonomy on democratization towards an expository account of the forms of political action undertaken in the pursuit of political autonomy. Taking the assembly of political actors as projects, I examine how various groups sought to mobilize available resources in those projects. In consecutive chapters I consider the impact of available tools, and gravitational constraints of economic legacies, institutional vestiges, the media environment and the legal apparatus on the failures and success of these efforts. What remains of these projects should impact future efforts to construct autonomous political actors, which in this study are defined as political subjects capable of a destructive withdrawal from alliances, the credible threat of which institutionalizes the vulnerability of a governing regime.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Snyder, Jack L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 13, 2018