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Chapitre d'ouvrage Année : 2017

Lawyers Mobilizing in the Tunisian Uprising: A Matter of “Generations”?

Résumé

If the young lawyers from the lower-level legal profession joined in massive numbers the marches, protests, and sit-ins that fed the protest movement, it was the professionals with experience in political activism that were the organizers of the lower-level lawyers mobilization. From this point of view, political engagement by the lawyers appears as “transgenerational.” But their participation in the protest movement was mainly due to its young segment, which followed the large increase in numbers in the legal profession. The feeling of sharing a common socio-economic status and perceiving the Ben Ali authoritarian regime as fundamentally hostile to them, contributed to the creation among most lawyers of a generational conscience and a rejection of the authoritarian status quo. Ultimately, the uprising in December 2010-January 2011 contributed to crystallizing this conscience, or in a more general way, “the interaction between historical resources, the contingency of circumstances, and a social formation” is susceptible to render pertinent a generation as a sociological category . But in the case of lawyers, the generational reading of the uprising in 2010-2011 must be balanced with the lower-level legal profession identity crisis, itself a consequence of the policies directed by the authoritarian regime towards the profession. With the fall of the authoritarian regime led by Ben Ali, “young lawyers” exacted their revenge following years of humiliation during his regime. At the same time, the professional organization, although reticent at first to get involved in collective action, was able to capture and profit from the dividends of mobilization by its grassroots and political activist lawyers. Afterwards, the latter, especially the most senior, leaned heavily on their revolutionary legitimacy to get politically involved: two-thirds of the lawyers from the first category, as well as the most politicized lawyers in the second inserted themselves in the official political scene and became professional political figures. These opposition lawyers, whose politico-professional engagement is anchored in the continuation of a political trajectory marked by their socialization and their previous activist mobilizations in the 1970s and early 1980s, had developed under Ben Ali a professional practice in support of union and political activists repressed by the authoritarian regime. In so doing, these lawyers had continued their oppositional practice within the framework of their professional activity. Two fundamental areas in their life, their career and their political engagement, had thus mingled thanks to their profession. At present, thanks to their protesting political action within the popular uprising of 2010-2011, they have been able to convert the activist and oppositional political resources accumulated since their university days into official political positions and status in post-Ben Ali’s Tunisia.
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Dates et versions

halshs-01522192, version 1 (13-05-2017)

Identifiants

  • HAL Id : halshs-01522192 , version 1

Citer

Eric Gobe. Lawyers Mobilizing in the Tunisian Uprising: A Matter of “Generations”? . Mark Muhannad Ayyash and Ratiba Hadj-Moussa. Protests and Generations: Legacies and Emergences in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, 5, BRILL, pp.73-95, 2017, Youth in a Globalizing World, 9789004338159. ⟨halshs-01522192⟩
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