A state of distrust : Islamic mobilization in Turkey and the Muslim world
- Across the Muslim world, successful mobilization efforts -- both political and economic -- are increasingly Islamic-based. No where is this phenomenon more apparent than in Turkey, a historically secular country that has witnessed a recent rise in Islamic-based politics and economics. Whether galvanizing mass street demonstrations, campaigning on behalf of a political party, or encouraging particular patterns of trade and investment, calls to collective action that rely on religious language or symbols are proving more successful than similar but secular ones. As a result, where other political parties have faltered in the face of electoral instability, Islamic-based parties are enjoying repeated successes; Islamic business associations and savings clubs are thriving in otherwise underdeveloped market settings; and Islamic charitable organizations are proving best able to provide public goods to the region's urban poor. The aim of this dissertation is to identify Islam's advantage in supporting collective mobilization, in Turkey and across the Muslim world. Although this advantage is often attributed to the deeply held religious beliefs of pious individuals, I combine personal observations and large datasets -- leveraging variation across individuals, across space, and across time -- to challenge this traditional view of Islamic activism as faith-based. Instead, I argue that Islamic mobilization is better described as trust-based: using econometric methods and a variety of data sources, I show that Islam's advantage rests on its ability to solve critical trust problems for the practice of collective politics and economics, in Turkey and a large number of Muslim-majority countries. The chapters of Part I of the dissertation seek to adjudicate between the two competing theories of Islamic mobilization. Chapter 1 offers a discussion and evaluation of the existing faith-based view: I define its empirical implications and then leverage variation in mobilization -- both political and economic -- across space, across time, and across individuals to test them. Ultimately, I find little support for the expectation that Islamic mobilization is faith-based: in terms of Islam's ability to mobilize the masses, indicators of personal piety are associated with significantly lower levels of political participation across individuals in eighteen Muslim-majority countries; cross-temporal increases in support for Islamic political parties in Turkey do not map onto similar trends in underlying piety; and cross-national patterns of Islamic banking are not associated with or religiosity or religious obstacles to conventional investment. If personal faith cannot explain Islam's advantage in political and economic mobilization, how are Islamic-based groups able to outpace their secular rivals? Chapter 2 presents an alternative, trust-based theory of Islamic mobilization by focusing on the collective aspects of mobilization and religion. I discuss the interdependence of individual decisions to become mobilized and reveal how uncertainty about others' participation threatens any would-be mobilization effort. The combination of interdependence and uncertainty make interpersonal trust a necessary foundation for mobilization. Where more generic, generalized feelings of trust are absent, I suggest that other forms of broad-based trust -- especially trust conditioned on shared group membership -- can serve as a near-perfect substitute. Using cross-national survey data from 140 countries, I reveal the absence of generalized trust in much of the Muslim world; and in data from eighteen Muslim-majority countries, I distinguish between personal religiosity, on the one hand, and a religious identity, on the other, capable of bolstering expectations of trust and trustworthiness among those who share it. In the empirical chapters of Part II, I present evidence of the importance of group-based trust in the success of Islamic-based movements, both political and economic, within Turkey as well as cross-nationally. Chapter 3 considers how Islam might address the trust problem in the case of mass political mobilization. Using the results of an original, nationally-representative survey from Turkey, as well as World Values Survey data from eighteen Muslim-majority countries, I illustrate the negative impact of generalized distrust on individuals' propensity to participate in mass politics. Further, I reveal a positive relationship between markers of religious identity and political participation, driven by an interaction effect of identity on trust and the propensity to participate. This has an unexpected impact on the ability of state repression to undermine Islamic-based political movements: by increasing the importance of trust for participation, repression also serves to increase the value of Islam as a foundation for mobilization. In Chapter 4, I turn my attention to explaining the success of Islamic-based political parties in Turkey and their potential for success elsewhere. Specifically, I seek to explain how a long history of coordination failure among voters was reversed with the success of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi). In panel data of electoral results beginning in the early 1970s, I reveal how low levels of interpersonal trust have made it difficult for voters in Turkey to coordinate on a winner, giving religious voters -- with their feelings of group-based trust -- an important coordination advantage. Further, I show how these voters' ability to consistently support Islamic-based parties over time has attracted the support of distrusting but secular voters, who would otherwise struggle to make their votes count, giving the AKP a significant advantage in distrusting, ill-coordinated electoral districts. To define the scope of Islam's economic advantage, in Chapter 5, I argue that feelings of trust among members of an Islamic-oriented business association are important in supporting long-term, flexible partnerships that mimic the benefits of vertical integration. This is particularly the case during periods of economic volatility, when future market conditions are uncertain and integration is most valuable. Using firm-level panel data from Turkey, I trace how members of the Independent Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (Müstakil Sanayici ve İşadamları Derneği) have fared during periods of volatility and compare this performance to similar but integrated firms, confirming that associational membership and integration are most important under conditions of uncertainty. Finally, in the chapters of Part III, I consider the source(s) of generalized distrust in the Muslim world. In Chapter 6, I explore a number of existing explanations -- social distance, social contact, economic development, political institutions; religion; and culture -- and find that none are able to account for the trust deficit in Muslim-majority countries. When I consider whether low levels of trust in the region are rational, reflecting the fact that most people really cannot be trusted, I find the exact opposite: levels of honesty in Muslim-majority countries tend to be robust, revealing a mismatch between levels of trust, on the one hand, and levels of trustworthiness, on the other. In Chapter 7, I suggest that this mismatch points to an information problem underlying the low levels of trust in the Muslim world. Using data from 128 countries, I illustrate how state institutions that often help to inform citizens about who should be trusted, when too intrusive, undermine this same process. The abundance of such institutions across the Muslim world finally serves to explain why trust is so limited in the region.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Department of Political Science.
|Laitin, David D
|Laitin, David D
|Blaydes, Lisa, 1975-
|Weinstein, Jeremy M
|Blaydes, Lisa, 1975-
|Weinstein, Jeremy M
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
- © 2016 by Avital Livny
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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