The economic causes of the Egyptian revolution" January 25, 2011"

Type Working Paper
Title The economic causes of the Egyptian revolution" January 25, 2011"
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
A growing number of recent studies on the Egyptian revolution attribute its beginning to a set of
socio-economic and political factors. On the political side, explanations includes a) the persistent
rule by terror for thirty years through the emergency law, b) the prohibition on political rights
and civil freedoms and lack of free and fair elections, c) police brutality against activists– namely
the case of Khaled Said) the wide spread corruption, e) the spread of virtual-opposition through
social networking websites and the Arabic satellite, f) the success of the Tunisian revolution as a
bloodless and fast change, the sacrifice of Mohammed Bouazizi, and finally the spread of
wikileaks scandals that threw more mud over the regime‟s face. . On the socio-economic side,
the revolution is largely attributed to the rise of unemployment, inflation of food prices, low
income and rising inequality, the lack of health services. In short, the revolution is explained by
the increasing density and pervasiveness of social, economic and political grievances that
culminated into an uncontrollable anger towards a diminishing legitimacy of Mubarak‟s thirtyyears-rule
of the country. This was largely reflected in the main demands of the protestors to end
Hosni Mubarak‟s rule, end emergency law, freedom, social justice and human dignity.
This paper suggests a growing significance of the economic motives of social and political
change through highlighting the economic dimensions of Egypt before 25th January 2011. It
reviews different indicators of the economic conditions in Egypt before the revolution, in a way
to answer a main question, “what are the economic motives behind the 25th January revolution in
Egypt?” The structural approach followed on this paper slightly touches on the Marxian
conception of dependency– by which social, political and cultural structures are perceived as
dependent on the economic super-structure. In this paper, these dimensions are seen as rather
intertwined and mutually dependent on each other; the economic motives are only one face of a
complex web of explanations that generate meaning and resonance to similar experiences
elsewhere. Meanwhile, the structural approach is deemed suitable to a leaderless revolution,
since it provides a set of „totalising‟ factors that facilitate collective action on massive scales by
creating a national narrative of the revolution.
This paper is organized around eight sections that circumscribe the economic situation in Egypt;
economic stagnation, income inequality and poverty levels, the demographic aspect–population
size, unemployment, rise of food prices compared to income levels, education‟s irrelevance to
job opportunities in the market and the wealth and gender gaps.

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