Societal structures and the origins of authoritarianism : a general argument with reference to the Arab world
Johnson, Mark A.
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This thesis attempts to explain the origins of, and the reasons for the persistence of non-democratic forms of rule in the Arab world. It seeks to define the minimum social prerequisites for the development of democratic institutions, and then shows that in large measure these prerequisites are lacking in Arab societies. Moreover, this deficiency is not the result of Islam or the Arab mind, but is primarily a consequence of the socioeconomic structures found in the Arab world. The thesis flows from the general to the specific in first providing an overview of socioeconomic structures, by dividing them into three categories: hunter/gatherers, agrarian and modern industrial. It makes the argument that the socioeconomic structures of modern industrial society generate social circumstances that are far more favorable to the development of democratic political institutions than either the agrarian or the hunter/ gatherer. Following this, the thesis looks specifically at the socioeconomic structures of the Arab world, making the argument that, largely as a result of the character of cultural and economic interaction with the West, the societies of the Arab world have maintained their primarily agrarian structure and they are therefore not predisposed toward democratic politics
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