First Advisor

Lindsay Benstead

Term of Graduation


Date of Publication

Summer 8-14-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science




Wāsiṭah, Democracy – Tunisia, Tunisia -- Politics and government, Patron and client



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 37 pages)


This paper aims to highlight the impact of democratization on wasta by examining the everyday performance of wasta, or the use of connections and informal networks to acquire services. Despite its widespread use, I find that it is understudied as an explanatory variable in the literature on democratization and authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa, with Tunisia as a case study. In this paper, I argue that wasta can potentially have a consolidating effect on regimes. I examine the ways that wasta is encoded in everyday language. Using literature from Pragmatics, specifically Goffman's dramaturgical model, I find that Tunisians' discursive world view reveals the power dynamics that underly the performance of wasta. I close with a research agenda that examines common approaches to studying wasta and how they can be improved by integrating an ethnographic lens.


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