Civil Society and Democratic Transformation in Contemporary Egypt: Premise and Promises
Bakry M. El Medni
This paper offers specific insights into certain types of civil society organizations and their role in the democratization process seen as an open-ended continuum in contemporary Egypt. Loosely structured civic movements were particularly effective in building social capital and transforming it into political mobilization while NGOs’ role was limited to exposing human rights violations. Professional associations transformed public protests from spontaneity into organized political actions. While the Federation of Egyptian Workers, an umbrella of all trade unions in Egypt, was presumed paralyzed as a result of cooptation, the individual trade unions played significant roles in political mobilization and dissent. Freedom of association even in controlled environment as in Mubarak’s Egypt can be a seed for unforeseen social upheavals. Broadly, this paper argues that social networks, as tools, are broadening the meaning of social capital and suggests that certain types of civil society organizations can be a true democratizing element in society.
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