Variegated forms of embeddedness: home-grown neoliberal authoritarianism in Tunisia under Ben Ali
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CitationGörmüş, E., & Akçalı, E. (July 27, 2020). Variegated forms of embeddedness: home-grown neoliberal authoritarianism in Tunisia under Ben Ali. Journal of International Relations and Development. p. 1-22. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-020-00196-7
This article aims to analyse the impact of structural adjustment programmes, widely known as the ‘neoliberal model’, on the resilience of authoritarianism during Ben Ali’s regime in Tunisia, to uncover the possible outcomes of the embedded neoliberal and the authoritarian blending. To do this, it engages with two sets of broad questions. How did the Ben Ali regime continue to maintain the regime’s tight grip on power in Tunisia during a ‘neoliberal’ transformation which in theory aims at reducing state influence? What does the Tunisian example tell us about the nature of embedded neoliberalism and its links with authoritarianism in general? The article answers these questions through the analysis of the novel social policy institutions of economic restructuring that took place during the Ben Ali era, namely the National Solidarity Fund, the Tunisian Solidarity Bank and the National Employment Fund. It concludes that these new tools under ‘neoliberal’ transformation increased state intervention in both politics and the economy, and reproduced the societal dependence on the state. Such form of neoliberalism has helped to sustain authoritarianism, but at the same time led to its demise when the social contract in which selective social benefits were provided in exchange for political loyalty failed.