Brazil Tunisia Egypt and Civil Unrest … Essay
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Youth of Tunisia, Brazil and Egypt
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Youth have a way of inspiring change. In developing countries like Brazil, Tunisia, and Egypt, working class individuals have made progress and joined an ever-growing emergent middle class. This middle class has become responsible for some of the biggest protests seen in the last decade. Fueled by youths using the internet and social media, it has created international attention and growing awareness for unfair living and working conditions in such countries. It also highlighted the power of youths as seen in the global protests of 1968.
In an article titled "Who is the Working Class? Wage Earners and other Labourers" by Marcel van der Linden, the topic of working class comes to the forefront. What is "working class." As the article suggests, the concept first came about in Western Europe around the end of the eighteenth century. The first few times it was used; it was done so in the plural form. "The 'working classes' comprised all those people employed to work for wages in manual occupations" (Atzeni, 2013, p. 70).
The term most likely came to be due to the rise of industrial capitalism along with the subsequent growth of factories and manufacturers. This new group of visible wage earners were not categorized with domestic servants or day laborers. Instead, they fit into a new category. While the term working class does not have universal interpretation, it does raise questions as to what the term means and why people use it.
Up until recently, 'working class' definitions and working interpretations focused on three main characteristics. The first is the assumption that all or the majority of working class members share at least one similarity or facet, their dependence on wages for survival. Meaning, they do not have other means of earning money and rely solely on wages. The second is their assumptions that the families of working class individuals belong to the working class as well. "Sometimes it is assumed that there is a male breadwinner who earns the income of whole household, while other members of the family perform at most subsistence labour" (Atzeni, 2013, p. 71).
The next shared characteristic for all definitions is the assumption that the working class is counterposed to or next to, other social classes. These other classes would include capitalists or employers, the un-free, the self-employed, and the bottom class or lumpenproleterians (thieves and beggars). Of course such assumptions have lent to scholars questioning them. This is because of the fact that workers can earn what is called "hidden wages," with the article giving the example of sharecropping. Self-employed people can also depend solely on one client, making their dependence come from wages only. Furthermore, there is no clear boundary between free and unfree workers as some would have assumed.
All such descriptions place emphasis on social-economic aspects. However, there is a subjective side to the working class. The culture of working class, their mentality, and collective actions provide indicators of what the class stands for and is about. An identity ekes out from shared experiences, thus class formation.
This subjective experience and culture is what can be used to analyze the youth of Tunisia, Egypt, and Brazil. Many youths in those nations are from what society deems as a working class. Meaning, they could come from working class families, or themselves experience it through wage earning. By examining how they interact with the world and society collectively, it will offer a glimpse into the rise in protests globally post 2008 Financial Crisis.
Within just a few short years the world has witnessed multiple and consecutive mass flare-ups in Brazil, India, and Turkey, with street protests bouncing off into the Balkans and the Ukraine. The emerging economies have created a class of angry and aware peoples that feel the need to be heard. As new middle classes have formed throughout the developing world, people need answers and protest in order to incite change. Aside from economic conditions like fair wages, and better work conditions, people in these regions protest for an end to repressive and corrupt regimes and a chance at a better life.
The middle class has seen substantial growth in developing countries like Brazil. Many students and other youths now make up an important part of the middle class. The middle class has played a role in several movements of 2011 seen in Greece, Turkey and Brazil continuing to the protests of 2013. "These eruptions brought both middle-class and popular youth onto the streets, and in some instances their parents as well, against corrupt, exclusivist, socially polarizing capitalist systems" (Therborn, 2014, p. 10).
The new middle class has provided fuel for an avalanche of discourse. While protests such as witnessed in 2011 and 2013 have had some impact on the news and reporting sites, it did not succeed in causing any actual changes in policy or prompt reform. What it did spur however, was growing awareness of the changes in classes transpiring over the last few decades and perhaps the seeds of change for the future. "Political commentators generally see the middle classes as a promising foundation for 'sound' economics and liberal democracy, though thoughtful economists, particularly in Brazil, have stressed the fragility of 'middle-classness' and the ever-present risk of poverty to which many are exposed" (Therborn, 2014, p. 10).
The middle class that rose from the working class is and can be instrumental in the pursuit of political reform, more precisely it can become a source of pressure for changes, democratic changes and has played an important role and a central force for example, both in Tunis and Cairo in 2011. "The volatility of middle-class politics is vividly illustrated by the sharp turns in Egypt, from acclamation of democracy to adulation of the military and its mounting repression of dissent, effectively condoning the restoration of the ancien regime minus Mubarak" (Therborn, 2014, p. 11). Since the youth are part of the growing civil unrest of the middle class, they may play a significant role in how things play in the future for those countries. Moreover, they may be good indicators for how the politics of their respective countries will change within the next few decades.
Brazil has witnessed several protests in the last five years. While slow starting, they have grown in intensity, sparking examination of Brazilian society. What first started in Sao Paolo, the wave of dissent expanded to over three hundred and fifty towns and cities, bringing in millions of people onto the streets. "The surge forced the authorities to cancel an increase in transport fares, and posed a real threat to the Confederations Cup, the showpiece football tournament then under way across the country -- preparation for the World Cup Brazil is hosting in 2014" (Singer, 2014, p. 19). What happened from there was a national pact of sorts that involved heavier punishments for corruption and promises of investment in education, transport, and health. While these ideas sound promising, very little has actually developed, prompting further protests in Brazil on the nation's Independence day, September 2013.
Essentially where the problem therein lies is the feeling that these protests are not being heard. While the Brazilian government promises change and reform, nothing has happened. The people have grown discontent with their government and call out again and again hoping this would bring change. "Many other demands were raised, including calls for electoral reform and opposition to Constitutional Amendment Proposal (pec) 37, which would restrict the attorney-general's power to carry out independent investigations, effectively eliminating an important tool against corruption" (Singer, 2014, p. 23).
One of the most important aspects of analysis of these protests is the majority composition of them. Most of the people that participated in these Brazilian protests belonged to the middle class. These people are young laborer who began earning wages from formal employment positions within the decade Lula was in power and quickly grew dissatisfied with their circumstances. They continually suffered low wages, poor working conditions, and high turnover. Instead of seeing hope rise from their new sources of employment, they instead saw disappointment, growing resentful of the way the government ran the country.
When they realized they, the youth, needed to take action and rise up to start change in their country, that is when the movement grew and gained the attention of the world. The youth are the ones that are gaining formal employment and realizing the unfair realities they and their families face. They, like they have been before as seen in the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's in the United States, act as catalysts for awareness and growth in countries. While ineffective at first, they become the seeds of change that take root years later.
Brazil was not the only country that had mass political protests. Tunisia and Egypt witnessed massive protests and political upheavals that caused millions of citizens to take to the streets and shed light on oppressive regimes. "In a… [END OF PREVIEW]
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