Socionomics Offers a Comprehensible Answer
By Robert Folsom | February 2, 2012
A negative trend in social mood creates polarization in a society, or the tendency “to break up into opposing factions or groupings.” If polarization is already in place, it will increase — in politics, in religion, even in sporting events.
All of this (and more) is true regarding the nation of Egypt since 2010.
Much of the world was riveted by the sudden political turn of events in Cairo a year ago, and elated by the images of protestors who stood their ground until Hosni Mubarak resigned the presidency.
But since then, elation has been hard to come by in news out of Egypt. Episodes of political violence are common across the country. Deadly sectarian clashes between the majority Muslims and minority Coptic Christians have increased dramatically.
And yesterday (Feb. 1) brought video clips and news accounts of the extraordinary violence and loss of life (79 people) when a riot erupted in the city of Port Said, during a soccer match between the local El Masry club and long-time rival Al Ahly club of Cairo.
Mind you, the two clubs apparently had an often bitter history. Yet occasional skirmishes are one thing, 73 dead is another. News reports say that “some people had died of knife wounds and many of blows to the head. Some were thrown down from high in the stands. Others were trampled by stampeding fans rushing to escape.”
My colleague Alan Hall has written detailed studies of polarization for The Socionomist, and this morning I asked him about the especially gruesome episode in Egypt. He got right to the point:
“Egyptian social mood plummeted in 2010 and again in 2011. Mubarak’s fall coincided with the start of a decline in Egypt’s [EGX-30] stock index — it fell for the rest of 2011 and lost 50%, from 7200 to 3600. It rallied a bit last month, but that won’t counter the cumulative effect of a 2-year negative social mood trend. Egyptian society is angry and strongly polarized.”
As is so often the case, socionomics goes deeper than “why” and gets to the why now. Sectarian clashes are not new in Egypt, but we can see that a polarized social mood has exacerbated the religious conflict. Democracy seemed to appear on Egypt’s horizon a year ago, yet social mood helps explain why that sun has yet to rise.
And the study of social mood offers a comprehensible answer to the why now when a simple sports rivalry turns openly murderous.
Alan Hall’s studies of polarization are online and available for you to read right now. Follow this link to learn more.>>