There is a limited evidence base on the changes after the Arab uprisings. A great deal of literature focuses on democratisation. Literature from the first few years after 2011 tends to be optimistic about potential change, while the later literature often notes reversals or unfulfilled opportunities.
Key findings include:
- The expected democratic changes have largely not materialised, or at least not to the extent hoped. Large-scale, durable changes have not occurred.
- A considerable body of literature reports that superficial changes have occurred, but the deeper underlying structures of authoritarian governance and weak accountability remain the same.
- Political changes have been positive in terms of increased voice, participation, media, and free and fair elections.
- One of the most reported issues is the shift, or potential shift, in the status of women. Again, it is unclear to what extent women have benefited from political changes, but there are signs that they are making progress.
- All literature highlights unemployment as a key challenge in the region. Unemployed youth were a key factor in the revolutions, but in large part their concerns have not been addressed and they remain marginalised from power structures. Expectations of radical change have led to apathy, as promises were not delivered.