Cities and Political Change: How Young Activists in Beirut Bred an Urban Social Movement

October 14, 2016

The paper investigates how young activists in Beirut bred an urban social movement. It is organized in two parts: the first discusses the context of urban policies and governance in Beirut, and how it has generated a dismal state of public services, where youth groups are excluded from the city and the public sphere. The second examines how two generations of urban activists created a diversity of groups eager to preserve the liveability of their city and their shared spaces. Three success stories of young urban activists demonstrate the formation of new modes of collective action and mobilization. The trigger for the consolidation of these modes of action into an urban social movement is the collapse of a key public service – garbage collection and management –, which translated into widespread protests (al-Hirak) as well as a successful municipal campaign (Beirut Madinati).

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