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Barriers to Democracy: The Other Side of Social Capital in Palestine and the Arab World Paperback – July 26, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0691140995 ISBN-10: 0691140995

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Editorial Reviews


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

From the Inside Flap

"This is social science at its absolute best. This book uses empirical data from the Arab world to point out flaws in our conventional wisdom about the importance of civil societies in a democracy. Everyone who cares about democratic theory needs to confront these findings, and anyone who wants to understand the failure of American efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East could do no better than start with this book."--Lisa Anderson, Columbia University

"A very impressive and highly original study that is rich in analysis and theoretical insight, not only about Palestinian politics during the Oslo period, but also about the conditions under which civic associations do and do not foster attitudes and behaviors that contribute to democratization in the broader Arab world."--Mark Tessler, University of Michigan

"This book fills an important gap in the wide literature on civil society. It notably expands upon this literature, both substantively, through unique and important survey data, and theoretically, in an argument that asks us to rethink how regime types affect the connections between participation in civic associations and democratic attitudes. By doing so, it not only contributes to the academic literature--which has largely assumed that lessons drawn from democracies can be applied to authoritarian regimes--but it also prompts rethinking in the policy debates over democratization. Academics and policymakers will find much of value in rethinking politics not only in Palestine and the Arab world, but also in authoritarian regimes elsewhere."--Ellen M. Lust-Okar, Yale University

"Taking as a point of departure the substantial work on civil society, Amaney Jamal engages a set of issues that are critical to understanding the paths of and possibilities for democratic transitions. In an academic and policy atmosphere in which building democracy abroad, especially in the Middle East, has become one of the most commonly discussed goals, her book should appeal to a wide audience."--Laurie A. Brand, author of Citizens Abroad: Emigration and the State in the Middle East and North Africa

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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