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Why Occupy a Square?People, Protests and Movements   in the Egyptian Revolution$
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Jeroen Gunning and Ilan Zvi Baron

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199394982

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199394982.001.0001

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‘Atef, the people of Egypt are forced to eat bricks!’ Socio-Economic Context

‘Atef, the people of Egypt are forced to eat bricks!’ Socio-Economic Context

(p.127) 4 ‘Atef, the people of Egypt are forced to eat bricks!’ Socio-Economic Context
Why Occupy a Square?

Jeroen Gunning

Ilan Zvi Baron

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses the structural context within which protest networks emerged, focusing on socio-economic factors. Drawing on social movement theory and revolution studies, this chapter looks at changes in key economic factors affecting people’s livelihood such as GDP growth rate, unemployment, food prices and inflation, and their possible impact on protest movements. Also examined are the links between rising food prices and the Mahalla protests of 2008 and the January 2011 uprising; between fluctuations in GDP growth rate and the anti-Iraq war and pro-democracy protest waves; and between various economic factors and the workers’ protest wave of 2006–2008. The possible relationships between demographic changes, employment and key protest moments are also examined: the 2011 uprising occurred a decade after the peaking of Egypt’s so-called ‘youth bulge’. Also looked at are changes to Cairo’s urban make-up and how these facilitated the rise of a mixed-class protest movement and the development of innovative tactics that helped to outwit the police.

Keywords:   protest networks, economic opportunity structure, neo-liberal reforms, GDP growth rate, food prices, inflation, youth bulge, youth unemployment, waithood, urban development

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