Framing Protest: A Social Movement Analysis of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and Moroccan Justice and Development Party in the 2011 Arab Uprisings
Contributor(s)Voll, John O
Justice and Development Party
Middle East; Research
Middle Eastern studies
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This thesis uses social movement theory to examine how the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD) frame their roles in the 2011 Arab uprisings and in the political shifts that followed. My primary theoretical lens is the concept of "framing," a process whereby social movement actors strategically produce and mobilize ideas and meaning for a variety of audiences. My analysis traces how both the MB and PJD departed from the regional trend in 2011 by continuing to articulate reformist rather than revolutionary goals. However the MB used non-institutionalized tactics by participating in street protests and boycotting Jordan's parliamentary elections, while the PJD used more quiescent institutionalized tactics by not participating in street protests and by running in Morocco's parliamentary elections. Building off of the work of Douglas McAdam (1996), I argue that the MB and PJD's choice of goals (reformist vs. revolutionary) and tactics (institutional vs. non-institutional) constitute a core signifying matrix that activists consciously deploy in order frame the nature of the movement to both the regime and the public. Each movement's choices on where to locate itself in this signifying matrix have been significantly impacted by its history, the regional context of the Arab uprisings, the institutional context of electoral authoritarian monarchy, and the specificities of national politics. Moreover, these framing choices were not self evident; they developed over time in response to changing events, prompted intense internal contestation, and exhibited a complex, nonlinear relationship with ideologies both internal and external to each movement. In making this argument, this thesis offers both empirical and conceptual contributions to the existing scholarly literature. Empirically, it examines two longstanding opposition movements that have been relatively understudied in the context of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Conceptually, it extends the democracy-centric theory of framing within social movement theory by applying it to Islamist movements in an authoritarian context.
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