Democracy and civil society in Arab political thought : transcultural possibilities /

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Main Author: Browers, Michaelle, 1968-
Format: Book
Published:Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, 2006.
Edition:1st ed.
Series:Modern intellectual and political history of the Middle East
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Review by Choice Review

Browers (Wake Forest Univ.) presents a laudable discussion for fellow scholars. However, this volume perhaps could have been a much greater contribution had it been organized chronologically, or if each chapter included both an introduction and a conclusion. Alternatively, the volume could have been a well-focused comparative analysis of Arab political thought. The chapters address Arab democracy, civil society (as understood in Arabic and in Arab societies), civil society, and the debate between liberalism and socialism, and the absence of gender in Arab debates on civil society. The collection is part literature survey, part history, and part philosophy, with an unfortunate tendency to use the terms Islamic, Arab, and Middle Eastern interchangeably. The recognition of pre-Islamic cultures and influences is missing entirely. The author asserts correctly that civil society has different meanings to Arab liberals, Islamists, socialists, and feminists. Such different understandings are compounded across cultures, creating "points of contention." The Marxist-Leninist influence in seeking an all-powerful state is mentioned, but the analysis falls short. The linkage between liberalism and wealth creation, rather than socialism and wealth distribution, is absent. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Graduate students through practitioners. F. L. Mokhtari National Defense University

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