CE41 - Les sociétés contemporaines : états, dynamiques et transformations

Subsidies Lift in the Middle East and North Africa: Unveiling the politics of welfare in post-uprising societies – SUBLIME

Submission summary

SUBLIME investigates the recent shift affecting the cornerstone of the Welfare States in the MENA : the universal subsidies on food and energy. The two waves of uprisings in the region – 2011 and 2019 – have made social justice a central issue. In this context, international donors and new regimes called for the renewal of ‘social contracts’ and pushed for the removal of subsidies and their replacement with targeted cash transfer programs. However, the lift of subsidies is a crucial political-economic dilemma, as it causes price increases on basic commodities and raises the risk of new revolts. In the eyes of policy-makers, but also of many scholars, subsidies appear as an instrument of political subordination that produces consent among citizens who would resign themselves to an authoritarian but protective order – and symmetrically would be likely to rebel if prices were to soar. Our project reverses this argument, and hypothesizes, rather, that the lift of subsidies produces political subjectivation not because it supposedly triggers food or fuel riots, but because it unveils the political struggles and relations that shape the complex socio-economic and bureaucratic supply-chains forming the subsidy systems. The lift of subsidies brings about multiple modifications in those chains that generate ambivalent political debates, sectorial mobilizations and new imbricated layers of welfare in which citizens are caught. Our project provides the first systematic, empirically grounded and comparative political sociology of subsidies in four post-uprising societies where this reform is on-going (Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Lebanon). Mixing complementary methods (archival research, mapping, quantitative dataset, qualitative surveys, ethnographic fieldworks), and gathering experienced field researchers and 3 PhD/Post-doc, the project excavates the social embeddedness of subsidies and the transformations of state-citizens relationships caused by their lift.

Project coordinator

Madame Marie VANNETZEL (Centre national de la recherche scientifique)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IREMAM Centre national de la recherche scientifique
IFPO Institut français du Proche-Orient
Université de Lille

Help of the ANR 427,297 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2023 - 42 Months

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