Associations and Democracy in Algeria

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Abstract

What role does associational activism play in political life in the Middle East and North Africa? Have associations been largely co-opted, thus reinforcing authoritarian governance? Or are they part of drawn out democratization processes, emerging over the last two decades, exploding during the Arab Spring? Divergences in responses to these questions have been striking. From initial optimism about the potential of associations to contribute to democratization, much recent literature has been increasingly pessimistic, framing associations as part of the problem of failed political transformations. Algeria, in particular, despite minimal donor funding, has seen a surge in associations over the last twenty years. Yet these 93,000 new associations have come under scrutiny. Building on extensive field-work, this article explores Algerian associations at grass-roots level, after the decade of violence in the 1990s. It analyses how associations challenged the state during the Arab Spring, how they question historical state narratives and challenge government policies. Despite political and structural obstacles, it is found that Algerian civic associations do not inhibit democratic society, indeed they enable it, not necessarily as transformative actors, but as meaningful democratic agents pushing for reform. Publisher Statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Democratization on 08 Mar 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13510347.2016.1144590
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-225
Number of pages17
JournalDemocratization
Volume24
Issue number2
Early online date8 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Democratization on 08 Mar 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13510347.2016.1144590
It was published in Vol 24/2 of Democratization in 2017:
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13510347.2016.1144590

Keywords

  • civil society
  • associations
  • Algeria
  • civic engagement
  • Arab Spring

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