Accepted paper:

Crystallizations of regime change. Disruptive events and political transformations in Guinea and Tunisia

Authors:

Joschka Philipps (Swisspeace & Centre for African Studies Basel (CASB))

Paper short abstract:

This paper seeks to open up a new perspective on regime changes by comparing the Guinean transition (2008-10) and the Tunisian revolution (2010-11). It suggests a crystallization model of political change, focusing on disruptive political events and their transformational consequences.

Paper long abstract:

This paper seeks to open up a new perspective on regime changes by comparing the Guinean transition (2008-10) and the Tunisian revolution (2010-11). Cognizant of the diversity of political trajectories, it suggests a crystallization model of political change (see Simondon 1989), a minimalist-universalist framework that focuses on disruptive political events and their transformational consequences. A framework for case studies and process-tracing rather than variable-based generalization, it breaks with both the classic transition paradigm and the subsequent scholarship on hybrid regimes. Its underlying quest is to better understand how an event can trigger dynamics that would have hardly been imaginable before the event. Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation in Sidi Bouzid in 2010, which prompted the Arab Spring, or the 2009 massacre in Guinea on September 28, which profoundly internationalized the so-called transition and eventually led to the 2010 presidential elections, offer intriguing cases of such disruptive events, and invite the general question of how to interpret political order before its disruption in light of what happened after it. The paper considers the importance of social media technologies, global-local linkages of political change, and theoretically aims at bridging the divide between 'empirical' and 'constructivist' paradigms. In short, while disruptive events highlight the potential of 'objective' reality to disturb the political order, regime change also highlights the significance of (inter-)subjective imaginations of political transformation in the wake of such events.

panel Pol26
Democratic and autocratic disruptions