Maria Blanco-Palencia

Department: Politics and IAIS

Project Summary

I am especially interested in Political Sociology and research related to studying state-society relations in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the Mediterranean. More specifically, I am interested in: the socio-political formation of states; social inequality and fragmentation along age, gender, and class, and how it affects politics; how informal political actors and groups, such as social movements, work outside formal political structures and affect them; and the way power is established between social groups. 

My doctoral research intends to explore strategies and dynamics of social movements in repressive authoritarian contexts and their role in re-framing state-society relations. In the context of contentious politics in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa), I take the case of Al-Hirak Al-Shababy Al-Urduny (the Jordanian Youth Movement) in order to explain: a) How is the movement organized? What strategies do activists put into practice? Does the movement put forward common strategies through the creation of coalitions? Does each group put forward different strategies? How is the spectrum of strategic choices conditioned by each group’s conceptualization of change? b) What are the obstacles/challenges that this social movement faces in Jordan? To what extent does state repression affect the organization of collective action? How do social movements respond to these challenges? And c) What are the outcomes of social movements? How do social movements work in re-defining state-society relations?

These research questions guide the research which intends to explore, on one hand, the effect of authoritarian regimes on mobilisation and, on the other, how protests and activism affect these regimes. In order to do so, I explore the repression-mobilisation relationship in Jordan and social movements' potential to shift state-society relations as an outcome of contentious politics.

Supervisory Team

Eleanor Gao (IAIS) and Bice Maiguashca (Politics)