Civic Life and Democratic Citizenship in Qatar Findings from the First Qatar World Values Survey

In: Middle East Law and Governance

The present study examines the Arab nation that has remained least affected by the regional upheaval that has gripped much of the Middle East and North Africa since the beginning of 2011: the Gulf state of Qatar. Using previously unavailable data from the inaugural Qatar World Values Survey administered in December 2010, we explore the political orientations of ordinary Qatari citizens. Specifically, we extend several recent empirical analyses that suggest a conditional relationship between civic participation and democratic political orientations in Arab and other non-Western societies. As in other non-democratic contexts, we find, in Qatar citizen involvement in societal organizations is not associated with higher appreciation for democracy, nor again with those values and behaviors thought to be essential to it. Rather, associational life in Qatar is simply an extension of traditional society and the prevailing regime, with those most involved being those who derive the most benefit and who would thus stand to lose most from any revision of the political status quo.

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  • 1)

    Samuel Huntington, “Democracy’s Third Wave,” in The Global Resurgence of Democracy, ed. Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), 3-25; Philippe C. Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, “What Democracy Is… and Is Not,” in Diamond and Plattner, The Global Resurgence of Democracy, 49-62; and Richard Rose, “Where Are Post-Communist Countries Going?” Journal of Democracy 8, no. 3 (1997): 92-108.

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    • Export Citation
  • 2)

    Steven M. Fish, “Islam and Authoritarianism,” World Politics 55, no. 1 (2002): 4-37; Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris, “The True Clash of the Civilizations,” Foreign Policy 135 (2003): 63-70; and UNDP, Arab Human Development Report 4: The Rise of Women in the Arab World (New York: United Nations Development Programme, 2006).

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    • Export Citation
  • 3)

    James L. Gibson, “The Resilience of Mass Support for Democratic Institutions and Processes in the Nascent Russian and Ukrainian Democracies,” in Political Culture and Civil Society in Russia and the New States of Eurasia, ed. Vladimir Tismaneanu (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1995), 53-111; Gibson, “The Paradoxes of Political Tolerance in Processes of Democratisation,” Politkon: South African Journal of Political Science 23, no. 2 (1996): 5-21; Gibson, “A Sober Second Thought: An Experiment in Persudaing Russians to Tolerate,” American Journal of Political Science 42, no. 3 (1998): 819-850; and Carlos Garcia-Rivero et al, “Political Culture and Democracy: The South African Case,” Politkon: The South African Journal of Political Science 29, no. 2 (2002): 163-181.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4)

    Robert Putnam, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992); and Richard Rose et al, “Where Are Postcommunist Countries Going?” Journal of Democracy 8, no. 3 (1997): 92-108.

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    • Export Citation
  • 5)

    Sidney Verba et al, “Beyond SES: A Resource Model of Political Participation,” American Political Science Review 89 no. 2 (1995): 271-294; Michael Delli Carpini, “In Search of the Informed Citizen: What Americans Know about Politics and Why it Matters,” The Communication Review 41, no .1 (2000): 129-164; and Michael Delli Caprini and Scott Keeter, What Americans Know about Politics and Why It Matters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6)

    Amber L. Seligson, “Civic Association and Democratic Participation in Central America: A Test of the Putnam Thesis,” Comparative Political Studies 32, no. 3 (1999): 342-362.

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    • Export Citation
  • 7)

    Natalia Letki, “Socialization for Participation? Trust, Membership, and Democratization in East-Central Europe,” Political Research Quarterly 57, no.4 (2004): 675.

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    • Export Citation
  • 8)

    Kenneth Newton, “Trust, Social Capital, Civil Society, and Democracy,” International Political Science Review 22, no. 2 (2001): 211.

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    • Export Citation
  • 9)

    Amaney A. Jamal, Barriers to Democracy: The Other Side of Social Capital in Palestine and the Arab World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 3.

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  • 10)

    Amy Hawthorne, “Middle Eastern Democracy: Is Civil Society the Answer?” Carnegie Paper No 44 (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2004), 15.

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  • 12)

    Hossein Mahdavy, “Patterns and Problems of Economic Development in Rentier States: the Case of Iran,” in Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East: From the Rise of Islam to the Present Day, ed. M.A. Cook (London: Oxford University Press, 1970); and Hazem Beblawi, “The Rentier State in the Arab World,” in The Rentier State: Nation, State and Integration in the Arab World, Vol. 2, ed. Giacomo Luciani (London: Routledge, 1987).

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  • 13)

    Jamal, Barriers to Democracy, 15.

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