The Politics of Contentious Action: Case-Study of the Lebanese "You Stink" Movement

In 2015, Lebanon witnessed the emergence of a massive contentious movement, known as "You Stink", in response to the unfolding of the waste crisis when the main landfill known as "Naameh" was closed. Though other opposition movements preceded it in the post-war period, "You Stink" succeeded in positioning itself as a threat to the continuity in power of the informal pillars of political power- the "politically relevant elites". Accordingly, the aim of the paper is to identify first those who are influential in framing national political agendas, hence targeted by the movement itself. Second, based on semi-structured interviews conducted with key activists within "You Stink", the paper provides an exploratory analysis of the zu'ama's receptivity to it, unpacking the strategies employed to neutralize the movement. It concludes that in addition to obstructive strategies put into play by the zu'ama, certain operative caveats within the movement itself, acted as "political opportunities" to the former's capacity to neutralize and weaken the movement.

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Abstract

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In 2015, Lebanon witnessed the emergence of a massive contentious movement, known as "You Stink", in response to the unfolding of the waste crisis when the main landfill known as "Naameh" was closed. Though other opposition movements preceded it in the post-war period, "You Stink" succeeded in positioning itself as a threat to the continuity in power of the informal pillars of political power- the "politically relevant elites". Accordingly, the aim of the paper is to identify first those who are influential in framing national political agendas, hence targeted by the movement itself. Second, based on semi-structured interviews conducted with key activists within "You Stink", the paper provides an exploratory analysis of the zu'ama's receptivity to it, unpacking the strategies employed to neutralize the movement. It concludes that in addition to obstructive strategies put into play by the zu'ama, certain operative caveats within the movement itself, acted as "political opportunities" to the former's capacity to neutralize and weaken the movement.

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