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Varieties of Muslim ExperienceEncounters with Arab Political and Cultural Life$
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Lawrence Rosen

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226726168

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226726182.001.0001

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Expecting the Unexpected: Cultural Components of Arab Governance

Expecting the Unexpected: Cultural Components of Arab Governance

(p.152) Eleven Expecting the Unexpected: Cultural Components of Arab Governance
Varieties of Muslim Experience
University of Chicago Press

Discussions about governance in the Arab world often revolve around the prospects for democracy. Either it is assumed that an electoral model based on competing political parties must cast up leaders whose legitimacy stems from the process itself, or a middle class must develop whose eagerness to affect the distribution of power coincides with those enlightened self-interests and unseen market forces that conduce toward representative government. It is not that these models lack merit, but they tend to exist in a partial cultural vacuum. To understand the relation of democratic forms and contemporary Arab political life—bearing in mind always that a general reference to “Arabs” is in no way to deny the range of variation—it may, therefore, be useful to explore some aspects of Arab culture more broadly conceived and to consider how they interact with the forms of governance that have been developing.

Keywords:   governance, Arab world, democracy, electoral model, political parties, power, government, political life, Arabs, Arab culture

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