The Egyptian Middle Class and the Nasserist Social Contract

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After 1952, the Revolutionary regime promised Egyptians a new form of citizenship, and one based on a new social contract – an agreement among citizens, and between citizens and the state. This new social contract pledged economic and social delivery through state economic action and the spread of social justice, which was to be shared by all Egyptians. The social contract discussed in this chapter is different from the Revolutionary portrayal of the new social contract but also from the authoritarian and populist bargain through which political scientists have often discussed Middle Eastern politics and Egypt’s political system under Nasser in particular. First, the chapter questions the new-ness of the Nasserist social contract in demonstrating much continuity in the social contract before and after the Revolution. Instead, I contend that the Revolution was, largely, a middle-class revolution and that the new social contract was a social contract with an existing Egyptian middle class or effendiyya. Second, the Nasserist/effendi social contact was not particularly populist in the sense of catering to the needs of ordinary Egyptians. Indeed, most Egyptians – peasants and workers – benefitted from the social contract less equally than the middle class.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook oF Citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa
EditorsRoel Meijer, James N. Sater, Zahra R. Babar
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780429058288
StatePublished - Nov 2020


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