Building a Bridge from Qualitative Analysis to a Simulation of the Arab Spring Protests

Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Complexity book series (SPCOM)


This paper builds a ‘bridge’ between a qualitative analysis and the design of an agent-based simulation by applying the CSNE framework, which distinguishes between context, scope and narrative elements. Qualitative data were constructed from ethnographic interviews on the Arab Spring in Egypt and Morocco. To identify narrative elements, the data were analysed by coding procedures from grounded theory and a computational analysis. Through a series of conversations and structured questions, the scope and context, which were largely implicit in the data, were specified, and a simulation was produced in a process akin to ‘rapid prototyping’. The aim was to produce the design for a simulation that included the key elements and behaviours identified from the qualitative data and as few other elements as possible. This paper describes this process, the CSNE framework, as well as the simulation that resulted. The lessons learned for such an exercise are reported.


Protests Arab spring Egypt Morocco Interviews Qualitative analysis Context Scope Agent-based simulation Qual2rule 



BE acknowledges the support of EU Commission funding as part of the H2020 “Populism and Civic Engagement” (PaCE) project, number 822337. SD acknowledges the support of a fellowship for prospective researchers from the Swiss National Fund (PBGEP1_145336), and a COFUND Junior Research Fellowship from Durham University and the European Union. We also thank the participants of the Lorentz workshop on “Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence using Social Simulation” (April 2019, Leiden) for their comments.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and International RelationsUniversity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Manchester Metropolitan University, Centre for Policy ModellingManchesterUK

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