Understanding Arab civil society: functional validity as the missing link

Carmen Geha
  • British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, February 2018, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/13530194.2018.1434611

What civil society means in to Arab activists

What is it about?

This article is about what Arab activists find useful in working within civil society. Arab countries are often only seen within the lens of violence and instability but they are also home to myriad civil society organizations. This article is about why civil society is relevant and important to youth, women and citizens working to change their societies.

Why is it important?

This work comes after more than six years since the Arab Spring and it is important because it sheds light on efforts of activists that often go unseen. We know why revolutions may fail but we do not know why countless of activists decide to work within civil society organizations. The article focuses on the empirical validity of civil society across the region, something which remains not well understood especially after the Arab uprisings.


Carmen Geha (Author)
American University of Beirut

I think this article is a must read because it builds on a wealth of empirical insights and experiences gathered from Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Kuwait, Iraq and Syria. I actually have been to those places and sat down with civil society activists for hours over the years in order to identify why civil society is still a useful concept. This is an important read for all those interested in the voices and experiences of Arab activists.

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The following have contributed to this page: Carmen Geha