Youth activism in social movements in MENA and Mediterranean countries

Session in the WSF Tunis 2015: S. de lecture 5 March 25th 11h30-14h

The year 2011 witnessed massive wave of social movements, transnational in scope but especially intense in the MENA region and the Mediterranean area, one of which precipitating factors has been the leading role of youth generations and the urban middle classes. The year began with the Tunisian revolution, continued with massive social movements in other MENA and Mediterranean countries, for example the '# spanishrevolution' of 15-M. Young actors in larger and smaller social movements are not a homogeneous group. Their strategies, actions, concepts of social change and democracy vary considerably, to the point where some of their discourses and tactics may appear contradictory. Throughout Mediterranean it’s possible to recognize self-organized direct democracy outside formal institutions, expert activism and mobilisers of protest democracy. Young actors in social movements aim to construct and create new autonomous spaces and places which permit actors to live according to their own principles, to knit different social relations, to express their subjectivity and live and experience that “other world is possible”.

This session aims to shed light on the nature, different historical roots and cultural backgrounds, causes and recent drift of such movements from the young activists’ perspectives. This panel will focus on the features, outcomes, strength, challenges and limits of youth activism in social movements, emphasizing its subjective dimensions, its concrete outcomes and its stance towards institutional politics.


Association Pontes Tunisie has invited three activists from civil society in France, Italy and Tunisia to speech on “The youth of the Mediterranean between apathy and "revolutions" - Issues of politics and citizen participation”. These speeches will open the session, continued with four other speeches:

Prof. Mounir Saidani (Tunis El Manar University, Tunisia): Community of taste, contestation and social networks – Youth activism in social movements in the post-revolutionary Tunisia

José Simões & Ricardo Campos (Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas UNL/ CESNOVA & CEMRI, Universidade Aberta) Digital media, social movements and young activists in Portugal: findings from Networked Youth Activism project

Sofia Laine and Fatma Jabberi (Finnish Youth Research Network & YoPo & NIGD) Spaces of dialogue? The case of the World Social Forum Tunis 2013 from the perspective of young, local volunteers


Sofia Laine


ISA-RC 47 Social movements, Finnish Youth Research Network, Center for Youth and Society Studies (JOVIS), Association Pontes Tunisie and research projects: GENIND & YoPo.


English, French, Arabic