Rentier State Theory and the Arab Uprisings: An Appraisal

Altunisik M.

ULUSLARARASI ILISKILER-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, vol.11, pp.75-91, 2014 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.75-91
  • Keywords: Rentier State Theory, Arab Uprisings, Oil and Politics, Political Economy of the Middle East, INDUSTRIALIZATION, WORLD, OIL
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This article aims to analyze the implications of the Arab uprisings on the Rentier State Theory (RST). Initial conceptualization of rentier state was based on the impact of externally generated oil revenues on the economic development as well as the nature of the state and state-society relations. Especially since 2000s the literature has been largely dominated by the study of relationship between rentier states and democratization. Based on the observations of the earlier literature, most of the studies argued that there was a strong correlation between rentierism and lack of democracy. There were also few studies that challenged this argument. The Arab uprisings should lead to the revisiting of the arguments of the RST. In only two of the rentier states, namely Bahrain and Libya, has there been a widespread uprising. Both ended through outside intervention, one in support of the regime, the other against it. In other rentier states, limited protests did not lead to uprisings. Therefore, the question is twofold: First, what do the full-scale uprisings in two rentier states tell us? Second,what does it tell us that with the exception of these two states, all other rentier states have been able to maintain stability?