Research

This study examines why ordinary people sympathize with a terrorist network in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Holding literalist religious outlook resonating with al-Qaeda’s marginal interpretation of Islam constant, it is maintained that anti-Americanism and its varieties matter a great deal in explaining attitudes toward al-Qaeda. Using Pew Global Attitudes Surveys conducted in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia, the authors run conditional mixed process estimations combining seemingly unrelated regressions with selection models to account for the missing values and endogeneity problems. The analysis reveals significant variation both cross-nationally and in the effects of varieties of anti-Americanism on favorability of al-Qaeda. While the dislike of certain aspects of American culture generates sympathy toward al-Qaeda, anti-Americanism as a general attitude does not. More interestingly, dislike of American democracy, technology, and policy has either negative or no effect on favorable views of al-Qaeda. Literalist religious outlook generates positive views of al-Qaeda, but religiosity has a negative impact. These findings imply that we need to draw careful distinctions between politicized Islamic preferences and personal religiosity as well as the different types of anti-American sentiments in understanding Muslim political attitudes about terrorist groups.
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Objectives: This article examines the cross-national variation in interreligious favorability across the globe. We develop and test several hypotheses linking globalization to attitudes toward the religious other through mechanisms of religious belonging and contact.
Methods: Utilizing cross-national data in 20 countries from the Pew Global Attitudes Surveys (2011), we run a series of multilevel and logistic regression estimations to test our hypotheses about global contact, religious identity, and interreligious favorability.
Results: We find that global contact has a positive effect on interreligious favorability whereas religious identity increases negative sentiments about religious out-groups. We also find that increased levels of globalization inhibit the negative impact of religious belonging and threat perceptions on favorable views of the religious other.
Conclusion: Although globalization increases the salience of religion as an exclusive identity category at the expense of decreased interreligious favorability, individuals become more conducive to interreligious tolerance thanks to frequent social contact at higher levels of globalization. external link download
In this paper, we examine the patterns of civic engagement in non-democratic and democratizing polities of the Arab World. We posit and test a theoretical argument which combines elements of modernization theory and utilitarianism. Specifically, we use wasta-seeking behavior and indicators of citizen empowerment to explain the micro level foundations of civic engagement. The results of a series of multivariate estimations using the first wave of the Arab Barometer survey show that clientelistic behavior along with higher level of education and employment status explain citizens’ involvement in various forms of civic activities. We argue that the former helps sustain traditional authoritarian structures and the latter may help democratization by strengthening civil society. We also detect a civic gender gap and find that both citizen empowerment and utilitarianism may narrow this gap in Arab societies. These findings provide new insights about the complex interdependence of human development, clientelistic networks, and democratization in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. external link download
This study presents the first systematic analysis of the public opinion dimension of soft power competition in the contemporary Middle East. Building on the scholarship on perceptions of foreign states and Arab public opinion, it proposes a series of hypotheses about sectarian identity, religious worldviews, and anti-Americanism as determinants of attitudes toward Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in the context of regional rivalry. It then presents multivariate probit estimations utilizing Pew Global Attitudes Survey to test these hypotheses. The findings suggest that religious identity and worldviews directly affect favorability ratings of these three powers in the Arab Middle East. While Sunnis favor Saudi Arabia and Turkey over Iran, religious individuals demanding Islamic law favor the Islamic Republic. Furthermore, anti-Americanism translates into lower support for Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but greater support for Iran. Democratic attitudes have no influence over perceptions of these three powers indicating the limits of democracy promotion as a foreign policy tool. external link download
Public opinion polls demonstrate that Arab citizens support both democracy and shari’a. I argue that individual values related to the secular-Islamist cleavage are instrumental in explaining this joint support. The analysis of the Arab Barometer survey shows that individuals holding Islamic values are more favorable of shari’a whereas those with secularist values tend to support democracy. However, the bivariate probit estimations also confirm that Arab opinion about these governing principles is more complementary and less divergent. The results imply that constitutional models combining Islam and democracy, rather than strictly secular institutions, may be more acceptable to Arab citizens. external link download
This paper focuses on the relationship between social identity based on national, religious, or international affiliations and attitudes toward foreign policy in the Turkish context. Evidence is drawn from an original survey conducted among university students in Turkey. The results show that students’ social identity has a significant correlation with their perceptions of foreign policy. Most Turkish university students provide conditional support for the new directions in Turkey’s foreign policy, but those with an Islamic identity appear to be more supportive of the AKP’s policies. Most university students believe that Turkey’s future lies in the European Union and the Central Asian Turkic republics rather than in the Middle East. Overall, the perceptions of educated youth toward foreign policy are shaped by both social identity and their conceptions of national interest. external link download
This paper investigates the determinants of anti Muslim sentiment in the West. Starting from the premise that Islamophobic attitudes are more nuanced than a simple dislike of Muslims, I focus on specific forms of attitudes which link Muslims to violence and terrorism. Data from the Pew Global Attitudes Surveys is used to test three theories: perceived threat, social identity, and cognitive capabilities. A series of logit estimations are used for the empirical analysis of individual level data in the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain. The results show that perceived realistic and symbolic threat is the most significant source of Islamophobic attitudes in the West. While individuals cognitively differentiate between general feelings toward Muslims and their specific characteristics, higher levels of education significantly reduces negative sentiments. A good number of Westerners think of Muslims as violent individuals while some believe that they support al Qaeda. Citizens in the West are more likely to associate Muslims with terrorism if they feel threatened by their physical and cultural existence external link download
This article explains the determinants of individual support for democracy in 10 Muslim-majority countries. Starting with economic and cultural interpretations of modernization theory, the author advances an argument exploring cross-linkages between macro- and micro-level implications of this theory as they relate to attitudes toward democracy. The author also provides a test of two alternative explanations: social capital and Islamic values. A series of cross-national and ordinary least squares regressions utilizing the fourth wave of the World Values Survey demonstrates that, 50 years later, modernization theory is still a powerful tool for explaining democratic attitudes. Particularly, perceptions of gender equality show strong associations with democratic orientations. Although some support is found for the positive effect of political trust, religiosity and Islamic values poorly predict support for democracy in the Muslim world. external link download
In the US, scholars have developed theories to explain the role of legislative committees, but these theories have not been widely tested outside the US. This ambivalence results from the perception that the strength of political parties in parliamentary systems undermines the importance of other legislative institutions, including the committees. We surveyed members of the Turkish parliament during a period of considerable party system turmoil to test the applicability of the prominent theories of committee organization, the distributive, informational and partisan theories, to a parliamentary system. We found strong support for the distributive and partial support for the informational specialization and partisan theories. We consider the implications of these results for our understanding of the role of committees in parliamentary democracies and the study of parliamentary politics. external link download
In the US, scholars have developed theories to explain the role of legislative committees, but these theories have not been widely tested outside the US. This ambivalence results from the perception that the strength of political parties in parliamentary systems undermines the importance of other legislative institutions, including the committees. We surveyed members of the Turkish parliament during a period of considerable party system turmoil to test the applicability of the prominent theories of committee organization, the distributive, informational and partisan theories, to a parliamentary system. We found strong support for the distributive and partial support for the informational specialization and partisan theories. We consider the implications of these results for our understanding of the role of committees in parliamentary democracies and the study of parliamentary politics. external link download
In the US, scholars have developed theories to explain the role of legislative committees, but these theories have not been widely tested outside the US. This ambivalence results from the perception that the strength of political parties in parliamentary systems undermines the importance of other legislative institutions, including the committees. We surveyed members of the Turkish parliament during a period of considerable party system turmoil to test the applicability of the prominent theories of committee organization, the distributive, informational and partisan theories, to a parliamentary system. We found strong support for the distributive and partial support for the informational specialization and partisan theories. We consider the implications of these results for our understanding of the role of committees in parliamentary democracies and the study of parliamentary politics. external link download