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Back Door Democratization? Apolitical Associations in the Middle East
Unformatted Document Text:  23 regime more than their secular counterparts. Thus, the Ruling Family and the mukhabarat (security services), in their attempt to quell the Islamists, see the organizations as a serious threat to the regime. 57 In response, where the regime might be willing to cede ground to the opposition through civil society in an attempt to quell international criticism and gain further legitimacy in the eyes of the Jordanian people, the regime is not willing, under most circumstances, to cede any ground to the Islamists. Thus, civil society as a whole suffers from its Islamist orientation. The Bottom Line Do Jordan’s professional associations serve as a breeding ground for civic virtue that will eventually create the democratic political culture necessary for a democratic transition? Yes, and no. The professional syndicates in Jordan do meet most of Diamond’s features of a democratic civil society, but the state does have some significant influence over the internal organization of associations in Jordan. 58 Additionally, the lack of vibrant, democratic political institutions severely limits the ability of Jordan’s apolitical associations to act. As Amaney Jamal wrote in her study of the role of associations in the West Bank and Gaza, “Democratic socialization, the promotion of social capital that enables broader forms of democratic participation, and the mobilization of interests through democratic channels are all based on an unexamined norm of democracy: associations will promote the attitudes and behaviors important for members to make use of existing democratic political institutions.” 59 Thus, to make civil society work for democratization in a liberalized autocracy such as Jordan, it is necessary 57 Jarrah, “Freedom of Association: A Case Study from Jordan.” 58 See Diamond, Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation. 59 Amaney A. Jamal, Barriers to Democracy: The Other Side of Social Capital in Palestine and the Arab World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).

Authors: Yerkes, Sarah.
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23
regime more than their secular counterparts. Thus, the Ruling Family and the mukhabarat
(security services), in their attempt to quell the Islamists, see the organizations as a
serious threat to the regime.
57
In response, where the regime might be willing to cede
ground to the opposition through civil society in an attempt to quell international
criticism and gain further legitimacy in the eyes of the Jordanian people, the regime is not
willing, under most circumstances, to cede any ground to the Islamists. Thus, civil
society as a whole suffers from its Islamist orientation.

The Bottom Line
Do Jordan’s professional associations serve as a breeding ground for civic virtue
that will eventually create the democratic political culture necessary for a democratic
transition? Yes, and no. The professional syndicates in Jordan do meet most of
Diamond’s features of a democratic civil society, but the state does have some significant
influence over the internal organization of associations in Jordan.
58
Additionally, the lack of vibrant, democratic political institutions severely limits
the ability of Jordan’s apolitical associations to act. As Amaney Jamal wrote in her study
of the role of associations in the West Bank and Gaza, “Democratic socialization, the
promotion of social capital that enables broader forms of democratic participation, and
the mobilization of interests through democratic channels are all based on an unexamined
norm of democracy: associations will promote the attitudes and behaviors important for
members to make use of existing democratic political institutions.”
59
Thus, to make civil
society work for democratization in a liberalized autocracy such as Jordan, it is necessary
57
Jarrah, “Freedom of Association: A Case Study from Jordan.”
58
See Diamond, Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation.
59
Amaney A. Jamal, Barriers to Democracy: The Other Side of Social Capital in Palestine and the Arab
World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).


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