Barriers to Democracy: The Other Side of Social Capital in Palestine and the Arab World

Princeton University Press
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Democracy-building efforts from the early 1990s on have funneled billions of dollars into nongovernmental organizations across the developing world, with the U.S. administration of George W. Bush leading the charge since 2001. But are many such "civil society" initiatives fatally flawed? Focusing on the Palestinian West Bank and the Arab world, Barriers to Democracy mounts a powerful challenge to the core tenet of civil society initiatives: namely, that public participation in private associations necessarily yields the sort of civic engagement that, in turn, sustains effective democratic institutions. Such assertions tend to rely on evidence from states that are democratic to begin with. Here, Amaney Jamal investigates the role of civic associations in promoting democratic attitudes and behavioral patterns in contexts that are less than democratic.

Jamal argues that, in state-centralized environments, associations can just as easily promote civic qualities vital to authoritarian citizenship--such as support for the regime in power. Thus, any assessment of the influence of associational life on civic life must take into account political contexts, including the relationships among associations, their leaders, and political institutions.



Barriers to Democracy both builds on and critiques the multifaceted literature that has emerged since the mid-1990s on associational life and civil society. By critically examining associational life in the West Bank during the height of the Oslo Peace Process (1993-99), and extending her findings to Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan, Jamal provides vital new insights into a timely issue.

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About the author

Amaney A. Jamal is assistant professor of politics at Princeton University. Named a Carnegie Scholar in 2005, she is co-principal investigator of the Arab Global Barometer Project, the first systematic cross-national survey gauging democratic attitudes and behaviors in the Arab world.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 6, 2009
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781400830503
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / General
Political Science / Civil Rights
Political Science / International Relations / General
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the post-Cold War era, why has democratization been slow to arrive in the Arab world? This book argues that to understand support for the authoritarian status quo in parts of this region--and the willingness of its citizens to compromise on core democratic principles--one must factor in how a strong U.S. presence and popular anti-Americanism weakens democratic voices. Examining such countries as Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia, Amaney Jamal explores how Arab citizens decide whether to back existing regimes, regime transitions, and democratization projects, and how the global position of Arab states shapes people's attitudes toward their governments.

While the Cold War's end reduced superpower hegemony in much of the developing world, the Arab region witnessed an increased security and economic dependence on the United States. As a result, the preferences of the United States matter greatly to middle-class Arab citizens, not just the elite, and citizens will restrain their pursuit of democratization, rationalizing their backing for the status quo because of U.S. geostrategic priorities. Demonstrating how the preferences of an international patron serve as a constraint or an opportunity to push for democracy, Jamal questions bottom-up approaches to democratization, which assume that states are autonomous units in the world order. Jamal contends that even now, with the overthrow of some autocratic Arab regimes, the future course of Arab democratization will be influenced by the perception of American reactions. Concurrently, the United States must address the troubling sources of the region's rising anti-Americanism.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment in American politics and life by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear.

Our current climate of partisan fury is not new, and in The Soul of America Meacham shows us how what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature” have repeatedly won the day. Painting surprising portraits of Lincoln and other presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and illuminating the courage of such influential citizen activists as Martin Luther King, Jr., early suffragettes Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, civil rights pioneers Rosa Parks and John Lewis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Army-McCarthy hearings lawyer Joseph N. Welch, Meacham brings vividly to life turning points in American history. He writes about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the birth of the Lost Cause; the backlash against immigrants in the First World War and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s; the fight for women’s rights; the demagoguery of Huey Long and Father Coughlin and the isolationist work of America First in the years before World War II; the anti-Communist witch-hunts led by Senator Joseph McCarthy; and Lyndon Johnson’s crusade against Jim Crow. Each of these dramatic hours in our national life have been shaped by the contest to lead the country to look forward rather than back, to assert hope over fear—a struggle that continues even now.

While the American story has not always—or even often—been heroic, we have been sustained by a belief in progress even in the gloomiest of times. In this inspiring book, Meacham reassures us, “The good news is that we have come through such darkness before”—as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail.

Praise for The Soul of America

“Meacham has become one of America’s most earnest and thoughtful biographers and historians. . . . Meacham gives readers a long-term perspective on American history and a reason to believe the soul of America is ultimately one of kindness and caring, not rancor and paranoia. Finally, Meacham provides advice to find our better angels—enter the arena, resist tribalism, respect facts and deploy reason, find a critical balance and keep history in mind. He’s provided a great way to do it.”—USA Today

“This is a brilliant, fascinating, timely, and above all profoundly important book.”—Walter Isaacson
In the post-Cold War era, why has democratization been slow to arrive in the Arab world? This book argues that to understand support for the authoritarian status quo in parts of this region--and the willingness of its citizens to compromise on core democratic principles--one must factor in how a strong U.S. presence and popular anti-Americanism weakens democratic voices. Examining such countries as Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia, Amaney Jamal explores how Arab citizens decide whether to back existing regimes, regime transitions, and democratization projects, and how the global position of Arab states shapes people's attitudes toward their governments.

While the Cold War's end reduced superpower hegemony in much of the developing world, the Arab region witnessed an increased security and economic dependence on the United States. As a result, the preferences of the United States matter greatly to middle-class Arab citizens, not just the elite, and citizens will restrain their pursuit of democratization, rationalizing their backing for the status quo because of U.S. geostrategic priorities. Demonstrating how the preferences of an international patron serve as a constraint or an opportunity to push for democracy, Jamal questions bottom-up approaches to democratization, which assume that states are autonomous units in the world order. Jamal contends that even now, with the overthrow of some autocratic Arab regimes, the future course of Arab democratization will be influenced by the perception of American reactions. Concurrently, the United States must address the troubling sources of the region's rising anti-Americanism.

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