The lived social contract in schools: from protection to the production of hegemony

Sobhy, Hania
Externe Publikationen (2021)

in: World Development 137, article 104986 (+ special issue: Framing the emergence of new social contracts in Middle East and North African countries edited by Markus Loewe)

Open access

This article proposes a framework for studying the social contract along the four parameters (4Ps) of protection, provision, participation and the production of hegemony. To appreciate the differentiated experience of how these parameters are lived, this framework is applied to schools as arenas that uniquely capture the dynamics of power and legitimacy in society. The education sector reflects broader transformations in the state bureaucracy, in social policy and in the lived experience of key elements of the social contract from the rule of law and gendered violence to formal and informal privatization, everyday forms of participation and the narratives and practices around nationalism and neoliberalism that legitimize these changes. Applying this approach to the case study of Egypt updates earlier propositions about an Arab social contract and nuances the notion of a tradeoff between provision and participation rights in understanding regime legitimacy. It underlines the critical changes to protection and legitimation over the past decades and the implications of the outsourcing of various elements of the social contract to market, charitable and religious forces. Drawing on rare research inside schools catering to different social classes before and after the 2011 uprising, the article describes how their realities reflect the transformations of lived citizenship in this historical juncture. Egyptian schools reveal a ‘lived social contract’ that is underpinned by selective retraction of protection, a collapse of provision, impoverishment and Islamization of participation and a resulting disengagement from the production of hegemony.

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