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Beyond the Arab SpringThe Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East$
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Mehran Kamrava

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199384419

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199384419.001.0001

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Challenging the Trade Union, Reclaiming the Nation

Challenging the Trade Union, Reclaiming the Nation

The Politics of Labor Protest in Egypt, 2006–11

(p.223) 8 Challenging the Trade Union, Reclaiming the Nation
Beyond the Arab Spring

Marie Duboc

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the upsurge of labor action in Egypt since 2006. It analyzes the nature and demands of these protests, and examines what the notion of a “ruling bargain” has entailed for the Egyptian labor movement and how this arrangement has been questioned. The political economic context is critical to situate labor grievances against a background of rising casualization and the changing role of the state since the adoption of liberalization policies (infitah) in the late seventies. However, this chapter argues, although local in scope, workers’ collective action has not been rooted in a moral economy of protest that simply seeks economic and social concessions in return for allowing the continuation of the political status quo. By focusing on the defensive nature of grievances, the moral economy framework creates a dichotomy between economic and political demands, which overlooks the dynamics of labor protests and their relationship to authority.

Keywords:   Egypt, ruling bargain, infitah, Egyptian labor movement

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