7/1 - Andrew Spath

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CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE ARAB
WORLD… TOWARDS
DEMOCRACY?
351 – Contemporary Politics of the Middle East
Summer 2010
What is Society?





A system of social interaction that includes culture and
social organization
Status (rank in society)
Role (expected behavior associated with a particular
status
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
Primary and Secondary Associations
What is Civil Society?



Civil society as a set of organized groups/associations,
whose members deliberate about social or political issues
or act collectively to accomplish common goals.
“the place where a mélange of groups, associations, clubs,
guilds, syndicates, federations, unions, parties, and groups
come together to provide a buffer between state and
citizen.”
Counterweight to the state
TRANSNATIONAL
CIVIL SOCIETY AND
ADVOCACY
NETWORKS
Political
society
(e.g.,
political
parties)
ECONOMY
CIVIL
SOCIETY
Domestic
society
(family, kinship
networks)
STATE
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND
TRANSNATIONAL REGIMES: UN, EU,
WTO, WORLD BANK, IMF.
European Union
Source: Jan Kubik, Rutgers University, Comparative Proseminar
Two Examples of Civil Society (1)

Qat Chews in Yemen (Wedeen)
 Public
Sphere – where people congregate to discuss
societal issues and transform discussion into political action
 Educated populace, performances of knowledge,
enlightened (and critical) debate
 help people to develop attachments to the nation outside
of the formal institutions of government
 Pluralism & inclusivity, but hierarchy
Two Examples of Civil Society (2)

Dewaniya in Kuwait - place of receiving associates
 Gathering
place to facilitate discussion & deliberation
about important issues, and build consensus
 Similar to a ‘town hall’ meeting, but less formal and
continuously taking place, and more social
 Politics of deliberation, alliance formation, activism, and
contention
 Locus of pro-democracy movement in 1980s-90s
 Locus of nationalist activism during Iraqi occupation
 Political Campaigns
Characteristics of Civil Society
Organizations (CSOs)





Secondary group relations, not primary
Openness and inclusivity (public); civil in their
behavior
Legally recognized
Produce dense networks of social relationship based
on trust and reciprocity (social capital)
**Tolerant and moderate in their claims; Supportive
of democratic reform
Networks

What is a network?
A
complex set of relationships between individuals and
organized groups of individuals

Generates feelings of solidarity
 Collective
“we” that is often sub-national
 Reified by regular associations among individuals
 Based on trust and continued associations

Strongest predictor of recruitment into activist
organization?  knowing someone already
involved
Web of Social Affiliations
or Social Network
B
A
Some Types of Ties
C
D
Professional
Family
Romance
Business
Some Types of CSOs (Yom reading)

Membership-based Professional Groups
 Ex:

Lawyer’s organizations (like Bar Association)
NGOs
 Ex:
Widows for Peace (micro-credit); Iraq Health Aid
Organization (basic nursing skills); require registration


Public Interest Advocates – human rights, watchdogs, thinktanks, etc.
Unions
 Ex:
Labor Unions exist in most, if not all, Arab states
 Regulated by gov’t (public funding; constrains activism)

Informal Social Groups and Networks
 Iraqi
Youth League in Jordan; Internat’l. Pal. Youth League
What is Democracy?



Minimalist (process) definitions
Substantive definitions (& preconditions)
"democracy is not attained simply by making institutional changes or through elite level
maneuvering. Its survival depends also on the values and beliefs of ordinary citizens."
 Civic





Pride and emotional investment in the nation & pol. system
Expectation of fair treatment from government authorities
Relative freedoms of speech and expression about political issues
Tolerance toward groups/parties/orgs you disagree with
Valuing of active participation (in local government, parties, & civic
associations)



Culture (Tessler on attitudes)
Self-confidence in one's competence to participate in politics
Civic cooperation and trust
Membership in a voluntary association
 Social
Capital
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