Research Articles

Micro-Sociological Dynamics of Repression: How Interactions between Protesters and Security Forces Shaped the Bahraini Uprising



The article applies a micro-sociological approach to investigate civil-military relations in a very concrete form: How do interactions between protesters and security forces shape the development of a conflict? Based on fieldwork in Bahrain and interviews with activists, journalists and opposition politicians, the article analyses the micro-sociological dynamics of how, despite great numbers and momentum, the Arab Uprising in Bahrain was repressed without, however turning into a military insurgence as in Syria. The article argues that the Bahraini regime was able to repress and silence the February 14 uprising through; 1) non-intervention during the momentum of the uprising, 2) injuring, torturing, and imprisoning rather than killing protesters, and 3) employment of expats in the military and police. Zooming in on micro-sociological processes provides not only a detailed narrative of the events, but also a recognition of dynamics that are often overlooked, notably how particular forms of repression make people gather in solidarity and outrage, energizing further counter-action, whereas other forms of repression involving torture, imprisonment, and injuring, but no visible, lethal violence can de-energize a protest movement.


BahrainRepressionMicro-sociologyArab UprisingProtest
  • Year: 2019
  • Volume: 2 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 9-19
  • DOI: 10.31374/sjms.13
  • Submitted on 24 Oct 2018
  • Accepted on 15 Jan 2019
  • Published on 25 Jan 2019