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From Dynamic Events to Deep Causes: Outcomes and Explanations of the Arab Spring

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image of Middle East Law and Governance

Attempting to understand the complexities of the Arab Spring is a challenge both methodologically and evidentially. Over a three year period we evolved a problem-driven attempt at theory building and came to see historically rooted structural factors as more satisfying explanatory variables than some of the more proximate arguments proposed to explain the causes and consequences of the Arab Spring. We found that antecedent variables could account for the contrast between countries that experienced successful uprisings and those countries that experienced no uprising at all or an unsuccessful uprising. We found two variables provided significant explanatory leverage. The first was the extent of non-tax hydrocarbon (mainly oil) rents, the second, the nature of the ruling elite and whether the incumbent had inherited power.

Affiliations: 1: University of Texas at Austin,; 2: John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University,; 3: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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