Utilitarian and Modern: Clientelism, Citizen Empowerment, and Civic Engagement in the Arab World
Ciftci, Sabri, and Ethan M. Bernick. "Utilitarian and modern: clientelism, citizen empowerment, and civic engagement in the Arab world." Democratization 22.7 (2015): 1161-1182.
36 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2017
Date Written: August 8, 2014
In this article, we examine the patterns of civic engagement in non-democratic and democratizing polities of the Arab world. The theoretical argument incorporates two perspectives: modernization theory and utilitarianism. Specifically, we use wasta-seeking behaviour and indicators of human capital and citizen empowerment to explain the micro-level foundations of civic engagement. We build on the implications of these approaches to explain the civic gender gap and women's status in Arab societies. The results of a series of multivariate estimations using the first wave of the Arab Barometer Survey show that clientelistic behaviour along with higher levels of education and employment status explain citizens' involvement in various forms of civic activities. We argue that the former helps sustain traditional authoritarian structures and the latter may help democratization by strengthening civil society. We also detect a civic gender gap and find that citizen empowerment and modernization may narrow this gap in accordance with the democratic norms whereas utilitarian behaviour may generate a similar effect to indirectly undermine the status of women. These findings provide new insights about the complex interdependence of human development, clientelistic networks, women's status, and democratization in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
Keywords: Civic engagement, clientelism, modernization, wasta, Arab Barometer, gender gap, Arab World
JEL Classification: Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation