Publication Date

April 2016


Ioana Emy Matesan




English (United States)


This thesis addresses how and why the social contract between East Bank Jordanians and the Hashemite regime is changing, and the implications for these developments on the societal and political stability of Jordan. I first propose a theoretical framework for understanding and interpreting transformations in social contracts between a regime and certain segments of society based on three key determinants: the level of relative deprivation and grievances within co-opted segments of a population, the resulting level of opposition from these co-opted groups and subsequent revision of the traditional social contract, and the limiting effects of international conflict and external circumstances on opposition and the ensuing transformation of the social contract. Using this framework, I analyze the economic and structural issues responsible for the growth of East Bank Jordanian relative deprivation and grievances, and the effects on tribal discontent and frustration. I then examine how East Bank Jordanian opposition and activism during the Arab Spring protests served to foundationally transform the norms of the traditional state-tribal relationship and spark the evolution of a new social contract between East Bank Jordanian communities and the Hashemite regime. Lastly, I explore how the Syrian conflict has quieted East Bank Jordanian opposition, leading to a fragile and temporary lull in tribal activism against the social, political, and economic institutions of the Hashemite regime. I conclude by addressing the repercussions of continued East Bank Jordanian discontent and an evolving state-tribal social contract on future societal and political stability in Jordan.



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