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11 - Arab Revolutions and Political Islam: A Structural Approach

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 September 2014

Karel Černý
Affiliation:
Charles University
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Summary

The Middle East and the modernisation process: too rapid, too slow, or rather uneven?

This chapter builds upon an alternative notion of a modernization process which stresses the uneven character of social change in the Middle East and its political consequences in the second half of the twentieth century. From this perspective, the proposed chapter deals with (1) the root causes of the rise of social and political tensions leading to the so-called ‘Arab revolutions’ and with (2) the origins of the rise of mainstream political Islam. That is, it addresses the roots of the conflict between a corrupt and highly unpopular political and economic elite and its challengers recruited from various social and political groups, first of all mainstream Islamic movements.

Regarding the root causes of the growth of political Islam and the rise of social and political tensions in the Middle East, at least three different explanations related to the modernisation process, its character and consequences can be identified: that they are (1) the unintended consequence of rather too rapid social change and modernization (see for example Arjomand 1986, 1995, 2006), (2) the result of unsuccessful and failed modernisation projects or development strategies usually pushed from above by secular governments (for example Lewis 2003a, 2003b), or (3) that they are the result of rather too slow modernisation, and thus the persistence of problematic religious traditions and old-fashioned ways of thinking (for example Lerner 1964, AHDR 2002).

Type
Chapter
Information
Religion and Politics
European and Global Perspectives
, pp. 183 - 209
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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