Bread, Freedom, Social Justice

Workers and the Egyptian Revolution

Anne Alexander and Mostafa Bassiouny


The first detailed account of the role of the workers' movement in the Middle East uprisings
Accounts of the Arab Spring often focus on the role of youth coalitions, the use of social media, and the tactics of the Tahrir Square occupation. This authoritative and original book argues that collective action by organised workers played a fundamental role in the Egyptian revolution, which erupted after years of strikes and social protests.

Drawing on the authors' decade-long experience of reporting on and researching the Egyptian labour movement, the book provides the first in-depth account of the emergence of independent trade unions and workers' militancy during Mubarak's last years in power, and and their destabilising impact on the post-revolutionary regimes.

Author Bio

Anne Alexander is a research fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge. She has published widely on Middle Eastern politics, social movements and digital media, and is the author of Nasser, a biography of Gamal Abdel-Nasser (2005).

Mostafa Bassiouny has more than a decade's experience as a reporter and editor in the Egyptian and regional press. He was industrial correspondent for the Al-Dustour newspaper between 2005 and 2010, reporting on the uprising which rocked the town in 2008. He reported on the overthrow of Ben Ali in Tunisia in January 2011 before returning to Egypt to participate in the uprising against Mubarak. Between 2011 and 2014 he was Head of News for liberal daily Al-Tahrir and is currently Egypt correspondent for the Lebanese daily Al-Safir.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: From the Republic of Tahrir to the Republic of Fear? Theorising Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Egypt
  • 1. From Nasserism to Neoliberalism: A New Amalgam of State and Private Capital
  • 2. The Changing Structure of the Egyptian Working Class in the Neoliberal Era
  • 3. Strikes, Protests and the Development of a Revolutionary Crisis
  • 4. Organisation in the Workplace Before the Revolution: The Nasserist Model in Crisis
  • 5. From Strike Committee to Independent Union
  • 6. The Revolution's Social Soul: Workers and the January Revolution
  • 7. Workers' Organisations Since the Revolution
  • 8. The Crisis of Representation: Workers and Elections
  • 9. Tathir: The Struggle to Cleanse the State
  • Conclusion: Beyond the Republic of Dreams: Revolutionary Organisation, Democracy and the Question of the State


'Here at last is a book on Egypt that acknowledges and traces the pivotal role of the workers in the sequence of events that led to the gigantic uprising of January-February 2011. In a field dominated by studies focusing exclusively on political movements and state apparatus, this is a most welcome and important contribution'
Gilbert Achcar, author of The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising

'One of the best accounts on the Egyptian revolution. The book is an accessible and in-depth read for both specialists and non-specialists alike.'
Rabab El Mahdi, The American University in Cairo

'Engaging and immensely readable, this book provides many critical insights into Egyptian workers and their ongoing struggles. It deserves to be very widely read.'
Adam Hanieh, SOAS, University of London

'An intriguing and detailed account of why the role of the working class needs to be put centre stage in understanding the toppling of Hosni Mubarak. A must read for those who want to know how and why the working class is essential to understanding political and economic crisis in Egypt.'
Ray Bush, University of Leeds


Publication Date: 9 October 2014
408 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780324302
Hardback: 9781780324319
eBook ePub: 9781780324333
eBook PDF: 9781780324326
eBook Kindle: 9781780324340

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