Governance and Government in the Arab Spring Hybridity: Reflections from Lebanon
The international community increasingly accepts that peace, security and development are decisively shaped by ‘good’ governance and institutions (World Bank (WB) 2011; Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2008). This observation is only reinforced by current developments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) presented as the Arab Spring.2 Dynamics in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria have nothing so much in common as their mix of socio-economic dilapidation and politicalinstitutional despondency. Corrupt, unrepresentative and increasingly ineffective state institutions have provided much of the seeds for the current developments. Yet, there is a pivotal aspect of governance that has been under-represented in the analysis of and response to the Arab Spring. This is the deceptiveness of the equation of governance with government. Analysts and policy-makers have construed the Spring as the bankruptcy of authoritarian government, but overlook the significance of the revolutions as an indication of resilient non-state governance. This disqualifies opportunities to build on existing and emerging non-state or semi-state governance arrangements. The aim of this paper is to offer an alternative frame for engaging with the Arab Spring. With reference to Lebanon, a country on the brink of being sucked into the upheavals, I propose that studies of the Spring would benefit from focusing on ‘twilight institutions’ and ‘mediated stateness’ in ‘hybrid political orders’ rather than on ‘fragile governments’ in ‘failing states.’ As a sensitizing exercise, the paper does not seek to present a detailed empirical analysis. The paper consists of four sections. Section 2 discusses the state-centered discourse that dominates analyses of the Arab Spring. In section 3, I juxtapose this state-centered perspective with a governance-oriented view on the Spring that is explicated in section 4 with illustrations from Lebanon. Section 5 concludes and offers a research agenda.
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- Stel, Nora, 2012. "Entrepreneurship and innovation in a hybrid political order: The case of Lebanon," MERIT Working Papers 078, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
- Naude, Wim & Santos-Paulino, Amelia U. & McGillivray, Mark, 2008. "Fragile States," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
- Nora Stel, 2012. "Business by Generator The impact of fragility and hybridity on Lebanese entrepreneurship – A Case-Study of the Electricity Sector," Working Papers 2012/52, Maastricht School of Management.
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