Background and Approach
September 2016, AMIDEAST began a qualitative assessment of Tunisian youth perceptions toward civic participation and political engagement. The objective was to highlight youth experiences regarding the barriers and assets to youth political voice and participation, and civic engagement. The assessment approved and funded by USAID included two main activities: the completion of 21 focus groups across the country, and a review of the relevant literature. This paper reflects a synthesis of the literature on Tunisian youth, and particularly their political voice and activities (both formal and informal) and their engagement with civil society. As the review and focus groups took place, themes such as unemployment, education, and corruption emerged as being indirectly relevant. The scope of the review was thus expanded to capture existing knowledge on these themes.
Databases including ERIC, JSTOR, Academic OneFile, Gale, ProQuest, and EBSCOhost were searched for reports or academic articles on youth voice and civic or political participation in Tunisia. ResearchGate.net and Google Scholar were also used. The websites of international organizations like the World Bank, ILO, UNDP, UNFPA, OECD, UNESCO, and International Crisis Group were searched for reports written during or after the Revolution. Government documents were obtained from the Ministry of Education’s website. (Other government websites were searched, but yielded no meaningful literature). Internal university libraries in Tunis and the National Library were consulted onsite. When a helpful source was identified, its bibliography was searched as well. Finally, members of the research team reached out to their contacts, both those in the academic world and members of civil society groups working on youth or democracy issues. This outreach produced some useful unpublished reports and papers.
In order to be included in the literature review, a report or study needed to have been published during or after the Jasmine Revolution of 2011. Sources needed to be relevant to the stated objectives of the study. In other words, they needed to be directly or indirectly related to Tunisian youth voice, civic engagement, or political participation. A source needed to include original data or an analysis that integrated multiple sources of data. Purely analytical reports were deemed credible if they were either published by known institutions or peer-reviewed journals, or included citations that verified their claims.