Pakistani Conceptualization of Shari'a and Support for Militancy and Democratic Values: A New Empirical Approach

43 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2014

See all articles by C. Christine Fair

C. Christine Fair

Georgetown University

Rebecca Littman

Yale University - Department of Psychology

Elizabeth Nugent

Yale University

Date Written: August 12, 2014

Abstract

In this paper, we argue that empirical studies of the relationship between popular support for Islamism and support for democracy and violence have yielded inconclusive results, largely because scholars inadequately operationalize respondent support for shari'a. Focusing on Pakistan, we demonstrate how using different conceptualizations of shari'a has direct impacts upon the observed correlation between such support and support for democratic values and Islamic militant groups. We use data derived from a carefully designed survey instrument that offers unique insights into how Pakistanis define a shari'a-based government. We find that formalizing an Islamic government as one that implements shari'a by providing services and security for the people is associated with increased support for democratic values, whereas conceptualizing an Islamic government as one that implements shari'a by imposing hudud punishments and restricting women's public roles is associated with increased support for militancy. These results suggest that depending on how individuals within a particular context and time period construe a shari'a-based government, public support for the multi-faceted shari'a can either be a positive force for democracy or a predictor of support for militant politics. These results have important implications for survey work, which must elicit a better understanding of respondents' beliefs about shari'a-based government.

Keywords: Pakistan, shari`a, support for Islamist militancy, support for democracy, public opinion, survey work

Suggested Citation

Fair, C. Christine and Littman, Rebecca and Nugent, Elizabeth, Pakistani Conceptualization of Shari'a and Support for Militancy and Democratic Values: A New Empirical Approach (August 12, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2482547 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2482547

C. Christine Fair (Contact Author)

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Rebecca Littman

Yale University - Department of Psychology ( email )

P.O. Box 208205
New Haven, CT 06520-8205
United States

Elizabeth Nugent

Yale University ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.elizabethnugent.com

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