The article analyses the change in discourse accompanying Bashar al-Asad's economic liberalization after 2000. The old populist social contract is to be replaced with a new one that allows the bourgeoisie access and agency while the workers and peasants are being further de-mobilized. The new discourse talks about changes in mentality needed for development, targeting the regime's old constituencies of civil servants and workers as the problem. The article builds on qualitative interviews with 20 private industrial entrepreneurs in Bashar al-Asad's Syria.

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