Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Islam and Democracy: Negative Association?

Robert D. Woodberry

Through searching the internet for more on Robert D. Woodberry and his work, I came across his doctoral thesis, "The Shadow of Empire: Christian Missions, Colonial Policy, and Democracy in Postcolonial Societies," submitted in 2004 to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the degree of doctor of philosophy in the Department of Sociology. In that dissertation, I found evidence offered for something I'd been wondering about: the consequences of Islam for democracy:
Past research suggests a strong and consistent negative association between the percent Muslim in a society and the level of political democracy. Muslims societies also have more unstable democratic transitions. (155)
Woodberry cites several scholars on this negative association of Islam and democracy:
Clague, Christopher, Suzanne Gleason, and Stephen Knack. 2001. "Determinants of Lasting Democracy in Poor Countries: Culture, Development, and Institutions."Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 573: 16-41.

Gasiorowski, Mark J. and Timothy J. Power. 1998. "The Structural Determinants of Democratic Consolidation: Evidence from the Third World." Comparative Political Studies. 31(6): 740-771.

Huntington, Samuel P. 1991. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Huntington, Samuel P. 1993. "The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs. 72(3): 22-49.

Karatnycky, Adrian. 1999. "The 1998 Freedom House Survey: The Decline of Illiberal Democracy." Journal of Democracy. 10: 112-25.

Karatnycky, Adrian. 2003. "Liberty's Advances in a Troubled World." Journal of Democracy. 14(1): 100-13.

Lipset. Seymour Martin. 1994. "The Social Requisites of Democracy Revisited: 1993 Presidential Address." American Sociological Review. 59(1): 1-22.

Midlarsky, Manus I. 1998. "Democracy and Islam: Implications for Civilizational Conflict and the Democratic Peace." International Studies Journal. 42: 485-511.

Woodberry, Robert D. and Timothy S. Shah. 2004. "Christianity and Democracy: The Pioneering Protestants." Journal of Democracy. 15(2): 47-61.
Woodberry does not analyze the reasons for this negative association between Islam and democracy -- though he rather generously allows that it might be due to the lack of Protestant missionizing in Muslim areas, which might otherwise have motivated Muslims to promote education, literacy, civil societies, and more in order to compete with Protestants, as sometimes happened when Protestants opened mission fields in some places, e.g., Catholic areas.

Perhaps some of the scholars Woodberry cites have made suggestions?

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At 3:59 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

One of the concerns voiced by observers is that if Islamic countries are democratized then the voices of fundamentalism will exert themselves unchecked, and that religious toleration, for example, (and such as it is) will disappear--which seems to be the case in the recent democratizing experiments in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere in Africa. A friend who is a Syrian Christian has told me that she is afraid for her Christian relatives in Syria should the fundamentalist "freedom fighters" succeed in "liberating" Syria.

(And as for the origins of such "liberating" and "democratizing" tra la movements, may I suggest the old mantra: "Follow the money.")

At 5:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I agree . . . but we also see that most Egyptians rejected Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could this be somewhat due to what appears to be an almost total lack of ability to negotiate resolutions in those countries by the different factions, sic; religions? It is a fairly constant mantra that the people want change and more freedoms, but whomever, or whichever party, is "elected" wants total power. From the outside looking in, negotiation skills are non-existent.

Froma a political standpoint, some of the politicians have learned the "promise them anything to get elected" part, but revert directly back to their autocratic ways when they achieve a leadership position.


At 7:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The question then is: does Islam itself make negotiation unlikely.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:35 PM, Blogger John from Daejeon said...

If you happen to catch the excellent series currently airing on HBO, True Detective, you'd see some of the very negative associations associated with Christianity in the U.S. that's kept out of most newscasts. It's quite refreshing to see a top-notch television program show how religion drives so much of the serious criminal acts in the U.S., and how so many people are brainwashed by it (most from early childhood when they have no say in the matter) into disbelieving the evolutionary fluke that is the human animal.

I've never been a big fan of the two leads, but they both deserve Emmy Awards for their work here, and there are still 5 episodes left to air in this limited series. Additionally, I'm so impressed with the writing of the show's southern creator, Nic Pizzolatto, that I now have to go and read his published fiction.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Like the KKK? As for "religion" being what "drives so much of the serious criminal acts in the U.S.," I am surprised to hear this. Does the program give a breakdown according to religion, or even to denomination? I'd be really surprised to hear that, for example, Buddhism is a factor behind crime.

Jeffery Hodges

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