Changing Tides? On How Popular Support for Feminism Increased After the Arab Spring

  • Saskia Glas
  • Niels Spierings
Part of the Gender and Politics book series (GAP)


This chapter studies why support for feminism was boosted by the uprisings in some Arab countries but not in others. Applying a context-dependent norm-diffusion frame, the impact of the Arab Spring is linked to whether feminist norms were brought to the fore and consequently resonated with publics’ life worlds. More specifically, we assess whether (a) the specific forms the uprisings took and (b) countries’ pre-existing anti-Western value climates and gender relations facilitated the visibility and resonance of feminist norms. Empirically, AB and WVS data covering over 46,000 respondents show that public support for feminism did not decrease in any Arab country after the uprisings. However, feminism did not increase significantly more strongly after the uprisings than before across the region. A comparative case-study design showed that our context-dependent norm-diffusion frame helped explain these differences and whether Muslim or secularist feminism thrived. Most importantly, our results show that large-scale protests in countries that were already more gender equal are sufficient to further boost public support for feminism after the Arab Spring.


Arab Spring Public opinion Support for feminism Muslim feminism Norm diffusion 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saskia Glas
    • 1
  • Niels Spierings
    • 1
  1. 1.Radboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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