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Frame Resonance, Tactical Innovation, and Poor People in the Tunisian Uprising

Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change

ISBN: 978-1-78756-896-9, eISBN: 978-1-78756-895-2

Publication date: 16 October 2018


Frame resonance and innovative tactics can substitute for a movement’s lack of important resources to sustain protests. This chapter shows how the insurgent groups in the 2011 Tunisian uprising that lacked mass-based organizations and national leaders maintained and spread the protests using frame resonance and innovative tactics. It argues that the activists’ strategy of frame resonance drew on the collective identity of the poor people in the interior regions, mainly their collective feeling of social marginalization. Activist organizers also relied on a motivational campaign aimed at converting the feelings of injustice held by those in the interior regions into anger against the regime. The innovative tactics of the activists included locating protests inside poor people’s neighborhoods, especially in coastal regions. The engagement of poor people in the protests sustained them in two ways: by spreading and intensifying protests through individual initiatives, and by weakening the Tunisian police in sustained disruptive actions and spontaneous riots. These findings are based on the narratives of 81 activists, insurgent groups’ documents, chanted slogans, and official state documents. The fieldwork research was conducted in Tunisia during the months of April and May 2012, and June 2013.




The author thanks Asef Bayat, Julie Mazzei, Janine Clark, the editor of this journal, and two anonymous reviewers for their detailed comments.


Yaghi, M. (2018), "Frame Resonance, Tactical Innovation, and Poor People in the Tunisian Uprising", Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 42), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 115-143.



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