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

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
Jamal's field research in the Palestinian West Bank suggests that the posited correlation between civil society and democracy is not quite so straightforward...These sobering findings need not cause those Arabs and outsiders seeking a democratic opening to give up on civil society. They should, however remind both the scholar seeking to understand and the reformer working to change of the need to appreciate how things actually work.
— L. Carl Brown
Choice
In the current study, Jamal emphasizes comparisons of associational life in the West with the Arab states. Accepted wisdom links associational life to the growth and maintenance of a healthy democracy. But the author's extensive fieldwork has uncovered a challenge to this conventional linkage, showing that associational life can be used to prop up undemocratic states. This is an important and timely insight.
— M. Slann
Middle East Journal
Jamal's work . . . deserve[s] attention from all of those who are concerned about the troubling quality of politics in the Arab world. . . . Those engaged in democracy promotion, in particular, should read this volume closely and heed its lessons about the uneasy relationship between civil society and democracy in the Arab world.
— Steven Heydemann
International Affairs
Amaney Jamal's volume is a welcome addition to the literature on democracy outside Europe and Latin America. . . . A reading of this book will help, by beginning the process of disassembling the various disciplines' multifarious and misleading Orientalist 'idées reçues'.
— Roger Heacock
Foreign Affairs - L. Carl Brown
Jamal's field research in the Palestinian West Bank suggests that the posited correlation between civil society and democracy is not quite so straightforward...These sobering findings need not cause those Arabs and outsiders seeking a democratic opening to give up on civil society. They should, however remind both the scholar seeking to understand and the reformer working to change of the need to appreciate how things actually work.
Choice - M. Slann
In the current study, Jamal emphasizes comparisons of associational life in the West with the Arab states. Accepted wisdom links associational life to the growth and maintenance of a healthy democracy. But the author's extensive fieldwork has uncovered a challenge to this conventional linkage, showing that associational life can be used to prop up undemocratic states. This is an important and timely insight.
Middle East Journal - Steven Heydemann
Jamal's work . . . deserve[s] attention from all of those who are concerned about the troubling quality of politics in the Arab world. . . . Those engaged in democracy promotion, in particular, should read this volume closely and heed its lessons about the uneasy relationship between civil society and democracy in the Arab world.
International Affairs - Roger Heacock
Amaney Jamal's volume is a welcome addition to the literature on democracy outside Europe and Latin America. . . . A reading of this book will help, by beginning the process of disassembling the various disciplines' multifarious and misleading Orientalist 'idées reçues'.
ald G. Ellis

Jamal's book . . . is an excellent contribution to the literature on democracy and associational life and it serves as an important assessment of the impact of social capital on democratic life.
From the Publisher

Winner of the 2008 Best Book Award, Comparative Democratization Section of the American Political Science Association

"Jamal's field research in the Palestinian West Bank suggests that the posited correlation between civil society and democracy is not quite so straightforward...These sobering findings need not cause those Arabs and outsiders seeking a democratic opening to give up on civil society. They should, however remind both the scholar seeking to understand and the reformer working to change of the need to appreciate how things actually work."--L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs

"In the current study, Jamal emphasizes comparisons of associational life in the West with the Arab states. Accepted wisdom links associational life to the growth and maintenance of a healthy democracy. But the author's extensive fieldwork has uncovered a challenge to this conventional linkage, showing that associational life can be used to prop up undemocratic states. This is an important and timely insight."--M. Slann, Choice

"Jamal's book . . . is an excellent contribution to the literature on democracy and associational life and it serves as an important assessment of the impact of social capital on democratic life."--Donald G. Ellis, Ph.D., ASMEA (Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa)

"Jamal's work . . . deserve[s] attention from all of those who are concerned about the troubling quality of politics in the Arab world. . . . Those engaged in democracy promotion, in particular, should read this volume closely and heed its lessons about the uneasy relationship between civil society and democracy in the Arab world."--Steven Heydemann, Middle East Journal

"Amaney Jamal's volume is a welcome addition to the literature on democracy outside Europe and Latin America. . . . A reading of this book will help, by beginning the process of disassembling the various disciplines' multifarious and misleading Orientalist 'idées reues'."--Roger Heacock, International Affairs

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691140995
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/6/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet 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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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Note to the Reader xiii

Chapter One: Introduction: Democratic Outcomes and Associational Life 1

Associations in Western Democratic Contexts 3

Associational Life in Palestine 10

The Associational Puzzle 13

Clientelism and Patronage 14

Chapter Two: Associational Life in the Centralized Authoritarian Context of the West Bank 21

The Failure of Oslo, PNA Corruption, and Democracy 22

Political Contextual Difference and Associational Life 25

The Polarization of Associational Life in the West Bank:
Historical Overview 26

Palestinian Political and Civil Life under Occupation 31

Associational Life Post-Oslo 36

Corruption, Patronage, Clientelism, and the PNA 41

The PNA and the PLC 43

Rule of Law, the Judiciary, and the PNA 45

Associational Life and PNA Corruption 47

Conclusion 49

Chapter Three: The Polarization of Palestinian Associational Life 50

The Palestinian Associational Terrain 51

Factionalism 58

The Peace Process with Israel and the Realities Associated with Oslo 61

Donor Monies 66

Conclusion 74

Chapter Four: Trust, Engagement, and Democracy 77

The Polarization of Palestinian Civil Society 79

Association Membership and Support for the PNA 83

Examining Interpersonal Trust and Civic Engagement 85

The Associational Landscape 89

A Note on Self-selection and Causality 93

Conclusion 94

Chapter Five: Beyond Palestine: Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt 96

Trust and Associational Life in Morocco 98

Consolidating the Moroccan Monarchy: A Historical Overview 101

Solidifying Authoritarianism or Political Liberalization 104

Historical Patterns: The Evolution of Associational Life 107

Associations and the Regime 109

Political Parties and the Moroccan Regime 111

The Media 113

Civic Attitudes and Associational Realities in Morocco 115

Beyond Palestine and Morocco: Jordan and Egypt 115

Associational Life in Jordan and Egypt 119

Civil Society and Polarization 121

Conclusion 125

Chapter Six: Conclusion:Toward a Theory of Democratic Citizenship in State-Centralized Nations 127

Interpersonal Trust and Associational Realities in the West Bank 127

Civic Engagement, Support for Democratic Institutions, and Associational Realities in the West Bank 131

Civic Engagement and Interpersonal Trust among Association Members 133

The Art of Association 135

A Note about Democratization 137

Appendixes 139

Appendix A: Survey Questions and Coding of Association Members 141

Appendix B: Survey Questions and Coding of General Palestinian Population 147

Appendix C: Survey Questions and Coding of General Moroccan Population (World Values Survey Questions) 150

Bibliography 153

Index 165

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