Moghadam, Social Change (Lust ed) - CHAPTER 2 Social Change...

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CHAPTER 2 Social Change in the Middle East Valentine M. Moghadam and Tabitha Decker D ESPITE PERSISTENT STEREOTYPING of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as static and tradition-bound, the region has experienced consid- erable social change since the mid-twentieth century. State formation, indus- trialization, urbanization, and increasing global ties-interrelated phenomena that can be grouped under the umbrella term "modernization" -have shaped societies around the globe, and the MENA countries are no exception.' These transformations were shaped by particular cultural, social, political, and economic contexts, resulting in variation both across and within regions. In this chapter we trace some of the key elements of societal transformation that have accompanied modernization in MENA, including the reconfiguration of social classes, the rise of mass education, shifts in family and gender norms, and the growth of civil society. Social change is often a contested process, and Islamist movements, women's movements, human rights orga- , nizations, and youth subcultures in MENA have become increasingly vocal and visible in challenging states and cultural norms. Here we examine social change over three periods: the 1950s-1970s, representing the period of socioeconomic development and state building; the 1980s, character- ized by structural ~djustment as well as the expansion of Islamist movements; and the 1990s until the present, with its features of neoliberalism, competing social move- ments of Islamists and women's rights advocates, and conflicts. Framing the chapter conceptually are world polity theory and world systems theory, which help explain the spread of "modern" institutions, norms, and networks in the region as well as the persistence of inequalities and geopolitical challenges.i Modernization, Development, Globalization Stereotypes present the MENA region as Arab, Muslim, and conservative, but the countries differ in their historical evolution, social composition, economic structures, and state forms. All were once under some form of colonial rule except for Iran (which
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66 THE MIDDLE EAST nonetheless experienced Russian and especially British intervention in the nineteenth century), Turkey (which was once a colonial power itself), and Israel (which some commentators have called a settler-colonial state). All the countries are predomi- nantly Arab except Iran, Israel, and Turkey, and all have majority Muslim popula- tions except for Israel. Most Muslim countries are largely Sunni except Iran, which is Shiite; Bahrain, which .~as a Shiite majority; and Iraq and Lebanon, with roughly equal parts Sunni and Shiite. Some of the countries (Lebanon, Egypt, a\d Syria) have sizable Christian minority populations; others (Iran, Iraq, Morocco) are ethnically and linguistically diverse. Some have had strong working-class movements and trade unions (Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey) or large communist organizations (Iran, Egypt, southern Yemen, the Palestinians). In all the countries, the middle classes have received Western-style education.
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