Arab Society in Revolt
Fig. 1. Arab Society in Revolt. Courtesy of Brookings Institution Press, 2012.

Brookings Institution Press published a new book titled "Arab Society in Revolt: The West's Mediterranean Challenge" edited by Cesare Merlini and Olivier Roy.

Publication Data

Merlini, Cesare & Roy, Olivier (Eds.). Arab Society in Revolt: The West's Mediterranean Challenge. Brookings Institution Press, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-8157-2396-7.


For every pithy conceptualization of complex events, there are additional lenses through which to examine them. One of the several virtues of this book is precisely that it brings different perspectives to bear on the complexity, diversity, and uncertainty of recent and current events in the Arab world. The thirteen authors concentrate on the critical social forces shaping the region—demography, religion, gender, telecommunication connectivity, and economic structures—and they are painstakingly analyzed and evaluated.—from the foreword by Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution.

The Arab Spring will be remembered as a period of great change for the Arab states of North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Facing fundamental transitions in governance, these countries are also undergoing profound social, cultural, and religious changes. The European Union and the United States, caught unprepared by the uprisings, now must address the inescapable challenges of those changes. How will the West respond to these new realities, particularly in light of international economic uncertainty, EU ambivalence toward a “cohesive foreign policy,” and declining U.S. influence abroad? Arab Society in Revolt explains and interprets the societal transformations occurring in the Arab Muslim world, their ramifications for the West, and possible policy options for dealing with this new world.

Arab Society in Revolt examines areas of change particularly relevant in the southern Mediterranean: demography and migration, Islamic revival and democracy, rapidly changing roles of women in Arab society, the Internet in Arab societies, commercial and social entrepreneurship as change factors, and the economics of Arab transitions. The book then looks at those cultural and religious as well as political and economic factors that have influenced the Western response, or lack of it, to the Arab Spring as well as the policy options that remain open.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Strobe Talbott
Introduction by Cesare Merlini and Olivier Roy
Part I: Societal Change in the Arab Muslim World
1. Demography, Migration, and Revolt in the Southern Mediterranean by Philippe Fargues
2. Islamic Revival and Democracy: The Case in Tunisia and Egypt by Olivier Roy
3. The Changing Role of Women in Society by Maria Cristina Paciello and Renata Pepicelli
4. Mediterranean Islamic Expression and Web 2.0 by Gary R. Bunt 
5. Modern Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship as a Factor of Change by Gonzalo Escribano and Alejandro Lorca
6. The Economics of Arab Transitions by Caroline Freund and Carlos A. Primo Braga
Part II: Consequences and Policy Options
7. Midwife or Spectator? U.S. Policies toward North Africa in the Twenty-First Century by Jonathan Laurence
8. The Power of False Analogies: Misunderstanding Political Islam in a Post-Totalitarian World by Alan Wolfe
9. Societal Change and Political Responses in Euro-Mediterranean Relations by Roberto Aliboni
10. The West and the Islamist Challenge: Toward a Common Religious Market? by Olivier Roy
11. The Challenge of a Changing Arab Islam in Future Transatlantic Relations by Cesare Merlini

About the Authors

Cesare Merlini is a nonresident senior fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings and chairman of the board of trustees with the Italian Institute for International Affairs in Rome.

Olivier Roy is professor at the European University Institute in Florence, directing the Mediterranean program at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and is a senior researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

To order the book online visit the Brookings Institution Press website.