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Social welfare and religion in the Middle East

Social welfare and religion in the Middle East: A Lebanese perspective

Rana Jawad
Copyright Date: 2009
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  • Book Info
    Social welfare and religion in the Middle East
    Book Description:

    As religion continues to regain its centrality in both academic and policy circles around the world, this book presents a new framework which examines the complex social and political dynamics shaping social welfare in the Middle East. Based on an in-depth study of the major Muslim and Christian religious welfare organisations in Lebanon (including Hezbollah), and drawing upon supplementary research conducted in Iran, Egypt and Turkey, the book argues that religion is providing sophisticated solutions to the major social and economic problems of the Middle East. It will be of use to students and academics of social policy, sociology, politics and Middle Eastern studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-780-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. v-v)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  5. List of Arabic words with English translations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  6. List of abbreviations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  7. Map of the Middle East
    (pp. ix-x)
  8. ONE Introduction: religion and social policy – an “old–new” partnership
    (pp. 1-24)

    Once the muse of the founding fathers of the modern social sciences, today religion has mostly become associated with a regressive or self-deluding impulse; or at best it is regarded as a cultural artefact. By the 1970s, few scholars would have imagined the centrality of religion on the world stage in the new millennium, but the last three decades have indeed been marked by the prominence of religiously inspired social and political mobilisation worldwide, as highlighted by a variety of publications that consider evidence on all the world religions (Antoun and Hegland, 1987; Moyser, 1991; Esposito, 2000; Mitsuo, 2001; Haynes,...

  9. TWO Religion and the foundations of social policy
    (pp. 25-68)

    This chapter sets the scene for the discussion of this book by reviewing the literature on the relationship between religion, human well-being and social policy. In Chapter One, I suggested that the relationship between religion and social policy is not new and in many ways is mutually constitutive: world religions are not just belief systems, they are also social systems with strong impulses to be active in the public sphere (Haynes, 2003). Concurrently, their public role and standing on issues of social welfare, justice and human dignity have been shaped by their interaction with the various social and political ideologies...

  10. THREE Lebanon: a profile of political and welfare institutions
    (pp. 69-84)

    Lebanon is of both intrinsic and instrumental value in this book. It presents an interesting case for research because of the diversity of religious groups there and because of its weak state (Migdal, 1988). Lebanon has historically stood out among the remaining Arab nations of the region because of its liberal social and political systems, its dynamic laissez-faire economic sector, which has always been open to trade with the outside world, the relative freedom of its press and the high levels of education of its population. Lebanon has also hosted the wars of the Middle East, being vulnerable to international...

  11. FOUR A philosophy of social service: faith or social insurance?
    (pp. 85-138)

    “I don’t have social insurance. I just have God’s mercy.” (Service user, MSA)

    “We pray so that God protects us from misfortune. We don’t have social insurance.” (Service user, Caritas)

    “I only found Caritas and Jesus.” (Service user, Caritas)

    “I only found God and Emdad.” (Service user, Emdad)

    Religion and social policy; faith and social insurance: it is, perhaps, poor analytical style to argue on the basis of simple dichotomies but throughout the fieldwork carried out for this book, I have been confronted with the extent to which each of these four concepts challenges and indeed substitutes its counterpart. Religion...

  12. FIVE Systems of provision and welfare outcomes: defining and treating the causes of poverty
    (pp. 139-194)

    The discussion now focuses on the actual mechanics and dynamics of service provision, consumption and evaluation. It builds on the claims made in the previous chapter about the extent to which welfare in Lebanon has the scope to act beyond short-term or instrumental goals. This chapter is thus concerned with one key question: to what extent do policies and programmes offered by the MSA and RWOs in Lebanon adequately define the object(s) of their interventions and, thus, respond to the causes of human impoverishment as opposed to its symptoms? Hence, this chapter addresses the third and fourth central questions mentioned...

  13. SIX Social solidarity: between power and morality
    (pp. 195-222)

    The preceding two chapters have sought primarily to build an evaluative profile of who does welfare in Lebanon (and to a certain degree the three other Middle Eastern countries that are of interest in this book), how and why they do it and what they actually achieve. This chapter continues to build on this profile by engaging with the fifth of the main questions outlined in Chapter One:

    How does religious affiliation shape the conceptualisation of social cohesion and solidarity in the region?

    This will add analytical insights to the overall configuration of social policy in the Middle East. Indeed,...

  14. SEVEN Social ethics and welfare particularism
    (pp. 223-250)

    The research on which this book is based set out to explore how religion intersects with social welfare and social cohesion, primarily in Lebanon, and draw preliminary comparisons with other countries of the Middle East, namely Egypt, Iran and Turkey. Thus, it is the main purpose of this chapter to synthesise the empirical analysis provided in the preceding three chapters by establishing some of the key dimensions of a potential welfare model for the region, which is based on the empirical evidence provided.

    I now reassemble, through the tool of a Lebanese ‘welfare model’, the disparate parts of religious welfare...

  15. EIGHT What next for the Middle East? Re-reading history, re-visioning future possibilities of positive action
    (pp. 251-260)

    Historical sociologists who have turned their attention to the major social phenomena of our times, such as religion, modernity and the creation of the welfare state, have opened up critical debates about the nature of “agency, power, structure, and modernity” (Orloff, 2005, p 224). Many such authors (see the volume edited by Adams et al, 2005, as a prime example) argue for the centrality of considering cultural and historical forces that have shaped the key institutions, processes, social relations and concepts of modernity. To this end, Orloff (2005) argues that social welfare programmes constitute political processes and bases for mobilisation....

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 261-268)

    As Gorski (2005, p 189) argues, the revival of interest in religion in the social sciences is due to a variety of historical and intellectual forces that have converged in the post-Cold War era:

    growing criticism of enlightenment thinking, the decline of modernism and materialist Marxism and the increasing post-modern awareness of the need to respond to multiculturalism;

    the increasing importance of cultural analysis in the social sciences;

    the emergence of a new generation of macro-sociologists whose political leanings have been formed after the fall of the Berlin Wall;

    a generalised revival of religious activism across the globe including the...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 269-298)
  18. Appendix A: Lebanon country profile
    (pp. 299-300)
  19. Appendix B: Social protection institutions and coverage
    (pp. 301-302)
  20. Index
    (pp. 303-315)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 316-316)