Vol.3, No.2 | [Articles] Representing Change and Stagnation in the Arab World: Re-thinking a Research Design



This article refutes a common approach to studying democratization in the Arab world using examples from Morocco and Egypt. Egypt is commonly regarded as a case for near-complete stagnation, whereas Morocco represents the more dynamic monarchies in the region. The article posits that the theoretical underpinnings frequently used in research hinder us to see and analyse change appropriately. Reform-minded agents that cooperate with the state should not be dismissed as “puppets of the system” because then external observers damage their credibility. It especially refutes research designs that exclude civil society from the analyses. Rather, the author argues that NGOs should be regarded as one-issue parties; a phenomenon that can also be witnessed in industrialized countries with decreasing legitimacy of political parties. The author calls for more empirical, long-term research on civil society in the region with respect to its inner, societal as well as international dynamic.

Keywords : Transformation Processes, Political Sociology, Civil Society, Semi-Authoritarian State, Arab World