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Back Door Democratization? Apolitical Associations in the Middle East
Unformatted Document Text:  4 restrictive legal framework in which the associations in Jordan operate makes it virtually impossible for apolitical associations to effect real change in the absence of significant institutional political reform. Theoretical Background Tocquevillian and Neo-Tocquevillian Conceptions of the Role of Associations Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the first scholars to describe the benefits of associations for democracy. As Tocqueville saw them, associations in the United States in the late 1800s were “great free schools” in which citizens were taught the values of democracy. 2 Specifically, associations instilled democratic skills and individual virtues in American citizens that fostered a stronger democratic political culture throughout American society. Tocqueville was writing, specifically, about associations in the United States – a mostly democratic society in which freedom of association was the norm and in which associations faced few, if any, barriers in their formation and activities. 3 Tocqueville’s ideas about the benefits of associations have been further developed by more recent scholars. Although some scholars have questioned the positive role of associations in fostering tolerance, diversity, and democratic ideals there is a general consensus in the literature that associations are good for democracy and the lack of vibrant, active associations leads to a state of “diminished democracy.” 4 This link, 2 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. Henry Reeve (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1899), 522. 3 At the time of Tocqueville’s visit to the United States associations were free from state intervention but they were by no means open to all Americans. As was the norm at the time, women and minorities were excluded from participating in most of the associations to which Tocqueville refers, but this fact should not be used to distort the picture of American associational life. The key to Tocqueville’s argument was not whether associations were inclusive of all sectors of society, but rather that they were voluntary, participatory groups free from state intervention. 4 For a critique of the role of associations and social capital in fostering tolerance and democracy see Jason Kaufman, For the Common Good? American Civic Life and the Golden Age of Fraternity (Oxford: Oxford

Authors: Yerkes, Sarah.
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4
restrictive legal framework in which the associations in Jordan operate makes it virtually
impossible for apolitical associations to effect real change in the absence of significant
institutional political reform.
Theoretical Background

Tocquevillian and Neo-Tocquevillian Conceptions of the Role of Associations
Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the first scholars to describe the benefits of
associations for democracy. As Tocqueville saw them, associations in the United States
in the late 1800s were “great free schools” in which citizens were taught the values of
democracy.
2
Specifically, associations instilled democratic skills and individual virtues
in American citizens that fostered a stronger democratic political culture throughout
American society. Tocqueville was writing, specifically, about associations in the United
States – a mostly democratic society in which freedom of association was the norm and
in which associations faced few, if any, barriers in their formation and activities.
3
Tocqueville’s ideas about the benefits of associations have been further developed
by more recent scholars. Although some scholars have questioned the positive role of
associations in fostering tolerance, diversity, and democratic ideals there is a general
consensus in the literature that associations are good for democracy and the lack of
vibrant, active associations leads to a state of “diminished democracy.”
4
This link,
2
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. Henry Reeve (New York: D. Appleton and
Company, 1899), 522.
3
At the time of Tocqueville’s visit to the United States associations were free from state intervention but
they were by no means open to all Americans. As was the norm at the time, women and minorities were
excluded from participating in most of the associations to which Tocqueville refers, but this fact should not
be used to distort the picture of American associational life. The key to Tocqueville’s argument was not
whether associations were inclusive of all sectors of society, but rather that they were voluntary,
participatory groups free from state intervention.
4
For a critique of the role of associations and social capital in fostering tolerance and democracy see Jason
Kaufman, For the Common Good? American Civic Life and the Golden Age of Fraternity (Oxford: Oxford


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