Observers and students of globalization struggle with two questions. Why are globalizing processes so unevenly distributed between poor and wealthy countries? What effect does this uneven distribution have on the everyday lives of ordinary people?
The contributors to this volume find answers to these questions in the Mediterranean, a region divided between the relatively wealthy people of the north shore, who are engaged with Europe and modernized, and their poorer neighbours to the south, who strive daily to meet the same standards of living and modes of governance as their more Westernized neighbours to the north. In these two regions, divergent histories, economies, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, education systems, and political structures lead to explanations for uneven globalization and disparities in the achievement of individual and collective autonomy, in the Mediterranean region and around the world.
These illuminating case studies show that globalization for the people of North Africa and the Near East has precipitated both a desire to build stronger ties with an ever-wary Europe and a search for individual and collective autonomy, particularly in the cultural realm. The seeds of discontent sown by these struggles underpin the demonstrations for political autonomy that sparked the Arab Spring.