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Title: The political agency of Egypt's upper middle class : neoliberalism, social status reproduction and the state
Author: Shaalan, Khaled
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 7368
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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The state's retreat from its traditional post-1952 role of providing trajectories for the reproduction of social status and distinction created new formative social processes of political agency for the Egyptian upper middle class. The de facto handover of such processes to mechanisms of the neoliberal market since the early-1990s has changed the modes of conditioning the relationship between the upper middle class and the Egyptian state. As a result, the social contract sustaining the upper middle class' traditional consent to the Egyptian state's successive political orders suffered serious erosion. In this context, the political discontent of the Egyptian upper middle class steadily grew beneath a thick layer of apathy towards farcical formal politics under Mubarak. In 2011, the active participation of the upper middle class in the Egyptian revolution represented the debut onto the political stage of a social segment previously thought to be at the heart of crafting renewed legitimacy for authoritarian rule. The study uses gathered narratives of upper-middle-class Egyptians to demonstrate the dynamics of the upper middle class' negotiation of status preservation and privilege reproduction in the neoliberal environment. By contextualising these narratives within structural transformations in the areas of education, employment and lifestyles, the study analyses the development of new upper-middle-class modes of socio-political critique of the state based on the social experience. Furthermore, the study examines the effect of class-typical encounters with the state in the social space as a medium for sharpening critical appraisals of the latter's role, informed by a neoliberal ethos acquired during the various stages of the process of status reproduction. These discursive inferences about the nature of the state as a political composition accumulatively informed the development of an appetite for political change, and will arguably continue to shape the patterns of future politicisation of Egypt's upper middle class.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available