Decentralised anti-hierarchical organising in the Syrian uprising
Professor Chetan Bhatt (Department of Sociology) and Dr Sara Salem (Department of Sociology)
Middle East Studies, Mobilisation, Political Sociology, Social Movements, Critical Theory, Critical Realism, Anarchism, Qualitative Methods, Contentious Politics, Revolutions
My PhD research seeks to outline how and why Syrian activists involved in the popular uprising of 2011 chose to organise on a non-hierarchical ‘horizontal’ basis, eschewing traditional leadership and party models to build widespread and resilient grassroots popular resistance networks. In doing so, I wish to ask what lessons can be learned from the trajectory of this decentralised revolutionary social movement – its rapid growth, embeddedness into the social fabric of society, remarkable achievements in challenging a repressive regime, and eventual failure and outmanoeuvre by competing forces. What characterised the revolutionary process in Syria – how did it forge and mobilise networks at the rural/village level to sustain a popular mass challenge to state authority? How did the revolution’s class dynamics and geo-spatial specificities impact its organisational form? In short – what made this revolution function in the way that they did?
2020. ‘During this pandemic, governments have waged a parallel war on the truth’, Ceasefire Magazine, 24 August 2020.
2021. ‘Non-Hierarchical Revolution: Grassroots Politics in the First Palestinian Intifada’, Oxford Middle East Review, 8 August 2021.