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After Uprising: MENA Youth Activism and Political Socialization in the Post-2011

Funding agency: MECW. Duration: 2022-2023

A decade after the 2011 uprisings, what has been the impact of the revolutionary moment for MENA youth in terms of their activism, participation, and political socialization?

On one hand, the experiences of 2011 shaped for many the ideals of State-society relations, citizenship, and systems of redistribution. Yet, the outcomes of the 2011 mobilizations have also had a profound impact on their modes of engagement, political values and beliefs, and activist trajectories. The research investigates how the transformations in political context along with collective reflections on the meanings and experiences of 2011 are informing youth activism and political socialization today. The research begins from two basic points of departure: an analytical concept of youth as a generational practice of politics, and a conceptualization of youth activist networks and social movement groups as Communities of Practice, meaning sites of like-minded individuals sharing identity, practices, and joint enterprise where processes of socialization and learning occur.

The research draws on a variety of empirical materials gathered through both traditional and virtual fieldwork. This includes: 72 semi-structured interviews with youth across Syria and two roundtable discussions with civil society actors conducted from 2019-2021; 12 focus groups discussions and interviews with over 120 youth carried out in early 2021 in 6 Tunisian municipalities; and 15 semi-structured interviews carried out in Morocco in February 2020 with youth civic initiatives. In cases where fieldwork could not be personally conducted due to travel and security restrictions, interviews and focus groups were conducted by a network of junior researchers in-country.


  • Investigate how positionality via-a-vis conflict dynamics shapes decision-making and activist trajectories among Syrian youth
  • Evaluate processes of political socialization into democracy and the role of activism and civic engagement therein among Tunisian youth
  • Assess how collective learning manifests in organizational structures and domains of intervention among Moroccan youth activists


Rennick, Sarah Anne (ed.) (2022) Reassessing Activism and Engagement Among Arab Youth. London: Transnational Press.

Rennick, Sarah Anne and Adel Bakawan (2022) "National Ambition, Divergent Vision: Consensus and Fracture among Iraqi Youth Activists of the Tishreen Movement", Arab Reform Initiative and Centre Français de Recherche sur l’Irak.

Rennick, Sarah Anne (2023) "‘2011 unshackled the space’: spatial analysis of diverging youth political agency in the Syrian conflict"Conflict, Security and Development, 23(1): 43-66.

Rennick, Sarah Anne (2023) "Egypt: Tahrir's Youth: Leaders of a Leaderless Revolution, by Rusha Latif (book review)"The Middle East Journal, 76(4): 539-542.

Other Research Output

Podcast episode: "Youth Trajectories in Conflict" on the Online Indian Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution (OIJPCR) Podcast Series.

Research Team

Sarah Anne Rennick, Researcher at CMES (Lund University)

sarah_anne [dot] rennick [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (sarah_anne[dot]rennick[at]svet[dot]lu[dot]se)