Social Contracts in the MENA – Drivers of Change

Photo: Participants of the Workshop in front of the IDOS Building


At a workshop at IDOS, some 25 scholars from four continents and various disciplines discussed how adjustments in social contracts can look like and what typically triggers them in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa.


Individual events (drought, state bankruptcy, oil price collapse), external interventions (invasion, sanction, embargo) or changes in internal power structures may be responsible for adjustments in social contracts. However, global trends such as digitisation, climate change, environmental degradation, migration and pandemics are also becoming increasingly important. Typical for the MENA countries is that they have no established procedures to negotiate necessary adjustments. Therefore, these are often omitted or mandated by the government. Society must accept if it does not want to take the risk of starting protests on the streets. Only in Tunisia and Sudan the social contracts have temporarily become more inclusive; however, the mutual blockade of the negotiating partners prevents compromises. And in both countries, authoritarian structures seem to be developing again.


More information on the concept of the “Social Contract” can be found here in this web special by IDOS:

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