Barriers to Democracy

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

Amaney A. Jamal
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7szck
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  • Book Info
    Barriers to Democracy
    Book Description:

    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 Democracymounts 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 Democracyboth 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3050-3
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Note to the Reader
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction: Democratic Outcomes and Associational Life
    (pp. 1-20)

    Across the third world, the discourse on civil society has remained a key feature of democracy promotion initiatives. Scholars evaluating the potential for democracy in these developing states and activists seeking to effect democratic reforms have focused much of their attention on civic associations. They argue that civil societies help to hold states accountable, represent citizen interests, channel and mediate mass concerns, bolster an environment of pluralism and trust, and socialize members to the behavior required for successful democracies.¹

    International organizations have also clearly accepted the premise that strong civic groups will promote democratization and political stability, and they have...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Associational Life in the Centralized Authoritarian Context of the West Bank
    (pp. 21-49)

    The political realities that shape the output of associational life differ from neighborhood to neighborhood, state to state, and country to country. The next two chapters provide, through a detailed examination of political-associational interactions in the West Bank in 1999, a portable theoretical framework outlining the effects of associational life on the quality of civic engagement. Civic associations in the West Bank were polarized along two main axes—associations with close ties to and favorable opinions of the government (the PNA) and associations that more or less opposed the PNA.

    Basic requirements of associational activity are necessary for active civic...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Polarization of Palestinian Associational Life
    (pp. 50-76)

    During the Oslo period, Palestinian civic associations were clearly divided into pro- and anti-PNA groups, a polarization that occurred in the wake of the creation of the PNA in 1993 following the Oslo Accords. The sources underlying this dichotomization are in fact multifaceted, encompassing a plethora of interests, factional allegiances, and political ideologies. The classification of associational life along these two main axes offers a political contextual framework through which to analyze the impact of associational life on civic engagement. It is these interactions that influence the quality and content of civic engagement among association members.

    As the governing institution...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Trust, Engagement, and Democracy
    (pp. 77-95)

    In democracies, civic associations generate higher levels of interpersonal trust, which in turn correlates to democratically oriented community action such as contacting a local representative about a community or personal concern. In countries like the United States, then, civic engagement bolsters democratic participation: people join associations and learn to trust their fellow citizens by engaging with them, which increases their propensity for participating with the local government. But in state-centralized authoritarian settings, higher levels of interpersonal trust do not promote patterns of civic engagement useful to democratic participatory behavior. In these settings, higher levels of interpersonal trust link to support...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Beyond Palestine: Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt
    (pp. 96-126)

    Like the Palestinian National Authority, the Moroccan regime extends a helping hand to followers and supporters. Over the years, the Moroccan regime has woven an intricate web of administrative controls, and it easily manipulates the allocation of power and resources—media access, financial support, political access, legitimacy—to supporters and opposition members in both the political and civil spheres, effectively controlling the organizations that form the foundation of Moroccan civil society. This chapter, in detail, will extend the findings of the Palestinian case to the Moroccan context. Furthermore, this chapter will also discuss, in less detail owing to data limitations,...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Conclusion: Toward a Theory of Democratic Citizenship in State-Centralized Nations
    (pp. 127-138)

    Civic engagement, support for democratic institutions, and interpersonal trust appear to be essential components of making democracy work. Theory and observation often lead us to think that social trust enhances the performance of political institutions and states. Cooperation cannot function without trust. Without cooperation, civic interactions, and reciprocal norms of behavior, community becomes meaningless—an empty category.² A lively community is one that cares about local matters and issues, and is engaged with current developments. In turn, where people hold officials accountable and share information, better government performance tends to encourage people to trust those they do not know. Well-functioning...

  12. APPENDIX A Survey Questions and Coding of Association Members
    (pp. 141-146)
  13. APPENDIX B Survey Questions and Coding of General Palestinian Population
    (pp. 147-149)
  14. APPENDIX C Survey Questions and Coding of General Moroccan Population (World Values Survey Questions)
    (pp. 150-152)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 153-164)
  16. Index
    (pp. 165-173)