Chapter 13: Conclusion: a meta-analysis of social marginality, governance capacity, and legitimacy in the MENA region
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This chapter synthesizes the diverse insights presented in the preceding chapters in the book, with a particular focus on governance in the MENA region. Building on sociological theories - structural functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism, feminism, and social constructionism - the book employs a comprehensive analytical framework that hinges on the conceptual pillars of governance capacity and governance legitimacy. The book analyzes social problems facing six marginalized groups - migrant workers, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), children, youth, and women - and evaluates public policy responses in the realms of social protection, labor market policies, and political reforms through dedicated case studies. These analyses serve as real-world stress tests for evaluating governance capacity and legitimacy, not only through a comparative analysis of two pivotal crises - the Arab Spring and the COVID-19 pandemic - but also across different social demographics. Importantly, the pandemic exacerbated the crises instigated by the Arab Spring, further weakening governance capacity and legitimacy in the region. The chapter navigates the complexities of governance, revealing how these crises, alongside systemic inequities, have shaped the governance landscape in this region. Specific deficiencies in healthcare and social protection are highlighted, as well as gaps in the inclusivity and responsiveness of governance systems to the needs of diverse societal groups. The aftermath of the Arab Spring has illuminated both the fragility and the potential for innovation in MENA governance systems. The tension between democratic reforms and public expectations further complicates the understanding of governance legitimacy. Policymakers in the MENA region are thus tasked with leveraging the lessons learned from these multifaceted analyses to build more resilient, effective, and legitimate governance systems for the future.

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