The Middle East's Democracy Deficit in Comparative Perspective

The Middle East's Democracy Deficit in Comparative Perspective © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2007 DOI: 10.1163/156914907X207720 PGDT 6 (2007) 189-213 www.brill.nl/pgdt Perspectives on Global Development and Technology P g d t Th e Middle East’s Democracy Deficit in Comparative Perspective Mehran Kamrava Director of Center for International and Regional Studies, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Qatar, and Professor of Political Science, California State University, Northridge Mehran.Kamrava@csun.edu Abstract Th e Middle East’s democracy deficit is a product of the patterns of political and economic devel- opment in the region. It is not because the region is predominantly Islamic or is somehow afflicted by purportedly undemocratic cultures. By itself, culture is not an impediment to transi- tion to democracy as it is subject to influences from the larger polity, especially insofar as the economy and the initiatives of the state are concerned. Instead, transition to democracy is deter- mined by the degree of society’s autonomy from the state. Th is autonomy may result from the empowerment of society as a consequence of economic development, or the state elite’s devolu- tion of power to social actors and classes, or, more commonly, a combination of both. Assump- tions about the inherently undemocratic nature of cultures such as Islamic and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Perspectives on Global Development and Technology Brill

The Middle East's Democracy Deficit in Comparative Perspective

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2007 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1569-1500
eISSN
1569-1497
D.O.I.
10.1163/156914907X207720
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2007 DOI: 10.1163/156914907X207720 PGDT 6 (2007) 189-213 www.brill.nl/pgdt Perspectives on Global Development and Technology P g d t Th e Middle East’s Democracy Deficit in Comparative Perspective Mehran Kamrava Director of Center for International and Regional Studies, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Qatar, and Professor of Political Science, California State University, Northridge Mehran.Kamrava@csun.edu Abstract Th e Middle East’s democracy deficit is a product of the patterns of political and economic devel- opment in the region. It is not because the region is predominantly Islamic or is somehow afflicted by purportedly undemocratic cultures. By itself, culture is not an impediment to transi- tion to democracy as it is subject to influences from the larger polity, especially insofar as the economy and the initiatives of the state are concerned. Instead, transition to democracy is deter- mined by the degree of society’s autonomy from the state. Th is autonomy may result from the empowerment of society as a consequence of economic development, or the state elite’s devolu- tion of power to social actors and classes, or, more commonly, a combination of both. Assump- tions about the inherently undemocratic nature of cultures such as Islamic and

Journal

Perspectives on Global Development and TechnologyBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2007

Keywords: MIDDLE EAST; CIVILIZATIONS; STATE; DEMOCRACY; CULTURE; AUTHORITARIANISM; DEVELOPMENT; CIVIL SOCIETY

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