November 30, 2022 A round table “Social Shifts in North Africa and the Horn of Africa”


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30/1 Spiridonovka str., Moscow, 123001
Tel. (495) 690-27-52
Fax: (495) 697-19-54

On November 30, 2022, a round table was held on the topic “Social Shifts in North Africa and the Horn of Africa”.

The following questions were brought up for discussion:

    - the main factors influencing the transformation of the social image of the countries of the region;
    -key trends in the transformation of the social structure;
    -consequences of social changes in the region;
    -prospects of social transit.

The round table was attended by researchers from the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Labor and Social Relations, the Diplomatic Academy, and MGIMO-University.

Reports and reports were presented on the topic “Status and Prospects of the Civilizational Development of the EMEA States in the Light of the Main Factors Influencing the Transformation of the Social Image of the Countries of the Region” (Alexander Tkachenko).

“Ethiopia: social shifts in the context of ethnic federalism” (Roza Ismagilova), “The impact of socio-political turbulence on social shifts in Tunisia (2010-2022)” (Ivan Kofanov), “The role of the ethnic factor in the formation of a new political order in the countries of North Africa" (Maria Volodina), "Irregular political and economic cyclicality, fluctuations in social rates, the role of various social strata in political processes in oil-exporting states (on the example of Algeria)" (Vladimir Kukushkin), “Demographic trends in Tunisia in 2010-2020. – new challenges” (Anna Kashina), “Social aspects of reforming the state system of subsidizing food in Egypt” (Ekaterina Elkina) and others.

The reports presented noted that the traditional strata of society underwent significant quantitative and qualitative changes during the period under review, determined not only by the ongoing change in the technological mode of production, and changes in the sectoral structure of national economies, but also by the transformation, renewal of production relations, and other factors.

In almost all countries, there is a steady growth in the scale of the service sector, its share in GDP, and the social strata have noticeably increased numerically, including those employed in various areas of trade and education, as well as in medical institutions, public services, including the army.

The transformation of the social image occurs under the influence of the emergence of several new social communities, and groups as a result of economic development in its global, regional, and local dimensions.

The growth in the scale and share of the service sector testifies to the continued evolution of the social image of the countries of the region after the "Arab Spring" and the peak of the global financial and economic crisis at the turn of the first and second decades of the 21st century. This evolution is ambiguous, it combines the features of progress, ascent - the emergence and numerical growth of modern strata, groups, and professions (IT specialists, programmers, providers, experts from consulting firms, companies, etc.) - with negative features, as evidenced by the growth the number of the unemployed, the poor, criminal groups and organizations, etc. Sociological studies also point to such an important feature of the ongoing evolution as the emergence and numerical growth of professions that are transitional as a result of a combination of areas, types of employment with relevant professional data, business ethics, etc.

The reformatting of the political landscape gives a special novelty to the emerging social image. This is a noticeable change in traditional parties and social movements, which at the stage of the “Arab Spring” lost their social significance completely or to a large extent, giving way to new political/public associations and movements. This process is associated both with the “demographic transition” taking place in these countries - the growth of the most passionate - youth group, the development of all levels of education, and with the consequences of globalization - the formation of a single information space, the growth of the political culture.

The wave of urbanization - the rapid growth of the urban environment led to the fact that the figure of the city dweller at the turn of the century prevails and replaces the previously dominant figure of the rural dweller.

One of them, the most significant feature of the ongoing social shifts, is that the maturation of modern society is ahead of economic progress and, at the same time, ahead of the renewal of the political field. As a result, rather sharp socio-political collisions are formed: the conflict between the political culture of the elites, especially the youth part, and the degree of maturity of political institutions and political and state practice is growing.

A distinctive feature of the ongoing processes of socio-political renewal/modernization is the increased role and influence on the formation of a society of the existing single information space, greater freedom in expressing an opinion, asserting gender equality, protecting human rights, and, ultimately, in the formation of individual elements and structures of the civil society.

It was noted that globalization initiates the renewal/modernization of the economy, and the socio-political sphere of the civilizational Periphery, and this process is irreversible (although there may be no rare exceptions). The archaic is gradually giving way to renewal, resisting furiously and not without temporary success in certain important aspects of social modernization, sometimes distorting and slowing down, and in some cases interrupting civilizational progress for a while.

At the same time, the acquisition of a new social image by the countries of North Africa and, more broadly, the Arab Middle East, no matter how complex, contradictory, and peculiar in each of the countries, this process, evolution, and transformation occur mainly in the same directions as in modern developed countries in a certain stage of their historical development.

Alexander Tkachenko, Head of the Centre for North African and African Horn Studies, IAfr RAS