T C 357 • Civil Society and Citizenship
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Civil society, like democracy, is resonating strongly across cultures, but it may require redefinition if it is to engender new publicly shared meanings and significant social and political change in either the Middle East or the West. Mainstream American political science defines civil society as a broad spectrum of secondary associations, ranging from political parties and pressure groups to sporting clubs, and postulates these intermediaries to be the bedrock of democracy. A strong and vibrant civil society is supposed to underpin responsible citizenship and make democratic forms of government work. Conversely, a weak civil society is supposed to support authoritarian rule, which keeps society weak. By this logic most Middle Eastern societies appeared to be caught in a vicious circle. American pressures since 911 to democratize the region, by force wherever necessary, have further compounded the problem.
This course will critically examine the concept of civil society both as it developed in the West and as it has traveled, more recently, to the Middle East. The western thinkers who articulated the concept also pioneered an orientalist tradition which idealizes the West at the expense of an allegedly absolutist, socially inert East. Students will read Montesquieu, Hegel, Tocqueville, Mill, and Marx to rediscover and critically analyze their conceptions of civil society. They will also read recent samples of Western and Middle Eastern discussions of civil society and try to develop a more universal concept.
Class and Internet participation (25%); three short papers (3-6 pages) to be transmitted over the internet (30%); one midterm exam (20%); one 15-20 page term paper (25%) derived from one or more of the short papers. This is a substantial writing component course.
Abel's Course Pack
Ali El Kenz, Algerian Reflections on Arab Crises, UT Press 1992
Jürgen Habermas, Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: an inquiry into a category of bourgeois society, MIT Press, 1993 0-262-58108-6
John A. Hall, ed., Civil Society: Theory, History, Comparison , Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1995 0-7456-1456-6
Zackary Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East, Cambridge University Press, 2004
Eva Bellin, Stalled Demnocracy, Cornell 2002
Marsha P Posusney and Michele P Angrist, eds., Authoritarianism in the Middle East, Lynne Rienner, 2005.
Robert Putnam, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy Princeton 1994
United Nations Development Programme, Arab Human Development Report 2002 and 2004 (online)
www.pogar.org - for analyses of civil society in Arab countries.