Dissidents actively challenge an established doctrine, policy, or institution; affecting a dissident movement when uniting for a common cause. Activists along with popular mobilization in the Middle East expressed wide scale dissidence. This resulted in the fall of long-lasting autocratic rulers in a domino-like fashion, referred to as the “Arab Spring”.
Yet, there are several unanswered questions related to the Arab uprisings. One of these questions is whether these series of uprisings were result of a wave of democratization that diffused across the Arab world or whether each country’s uprising is an independent event from its surroundings.
The second session of the ERF workshop “The Pulse of the Arab Streets” focused on the mass movements. Dr. Samer Atallah –American University in Cairo (AUC)– presented a draft paper on “Diffusion of Dissidence in Arab Public Opinion” that is co-authored with Dr. Mohamed Al-Ississ. The authors study dissidence in Arab public opinion before and after the wave of uprisings. Specifically, they are investigating the contagion effect in dissidence in public opinion. In other words, they are investigating whether the behavior of dissidence in neighboring countries interacted through public opinion or not, and whether the diffusion dynamics changed after the start of the uprisings in the spring of 2011.
The paper suggests that there is indeed diffusion in public dissidence across Arab countries in the economic inclusion and wellbeing but not in political inclusion. Additionally, the evolvement of the uprisings affected diffusion dynamics. Diffusion of dissidence was quite present prior to the start of the Arab uprisings and ceased to exist post the uprisings. This supports the notion that such factors mattered more in the spread of dissidence and political action rather than factors related to political inclusion.