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A Contribution To The Understanding Of Middle Eastern and Muslim Exceptionalism

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The democratic deficit in the Middle East and the Muslim world is well-established. No study has, however, identified what it is about being a Middle Eastern or Muslim-majority country that impedes democracy. The explanatory deficit has given rise to an idea of Middle Eastern or Muslimexceptionalism. This article documents that when political and colonial history is accounted for, there is nothing exceptional about levels of democracy in these regions. Territories with comparatively developed precolonial state institutions were better able to resist European colonization and settlement. If they were colonized, territories with more developed state structures were more likely to experience an indirect form of colonial rule. Such territories, including the Islamic heartland in the Middle East, experienced less European settlement and colonial rule through local intermediaries and were therefore, in the long run, less likely to embark on a democratic regime trajectory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)477-490
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2015

ID: 44842600