Since late 2010, the Arab World has witnessed regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; and revolts by Arab citizens are still underway in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, along with reform initiatives at different levels. These processes cannot be accurately be described by Orientalist terms such as ‘Arab Spring’, ‘Arab unrest’ or the ‘Facebook Revolution’, where such categorizations fail to account for the radical transformation in politics and values that the Arab World is undergoing and the significance that resides in the confluence of social and democratic demands. The ultimate fate of these popular uprisings remains in the balance, but it is all too clear that they have produced the most dramatic changes in the region since the mid-twentieth century which marked the end of the colonial era. This article aims to elucidate the import of term ‘the people’ and to whom it applies in the popular slogan: ‘The people want the overthrow of the regime’ (al-shaʿb yurīd isqāṭ al-niẓām). It aims to identify the actors involved in the revolution, particularly the youth and participants among the labour movement. Through this analysis the study explores the new political subjectivity ushered in by these revolutions, in the specific form of individuality, or what is termed here reflexive individualism. This individualism, which is different from the neoliberal concept, is not a straightforward one predicated on anti-patriarchal authority, anti-tribe, anti-community or anti-political party sentiments. The political subjectivity of the individuals who have taken part is formed and shaped both within and across the shadowy edges of political institutions and their production of legitimacy and knowledge.

This content is only available via PDF.