What are the dynamics of civic activism in authoritarian regimes? How do new social actors-many of them informal, below the radar groups-interact with these regimes? What mechanisms do the power elite employ to deal with societal dissidence? The authors of Civil Society in Syria and Iran explore the nature of state-society relations in two countries that are experiencing popular demands for political pluralism amid the constraints of authoritarian retrenchment.
Paul Aarts is senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Amsterdam. He is cofounder of ZemZem, a Dutch magazine focusing on the Middle East and North Africa, and co-author of Saudi Arabia in the Balance: Political Economy, Society, Foreign Affairs. Francesco Cavatorta is senior lecturer in the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University. His publications include Civil Society and Democratization in the Arab World and The International Dimension of the Failed Algerian Transition.