Research Journal #Final

Just figured that I am missing one research journal. So here is how my paper was framed. It begins with laying a conceptual framework to both political participation and citizenship education. Afterward, the paper revisits the previous literature about the topic of citizenship education with a particular focus on post-conflict, Middle East North African countries. It then proceeds to investigate the Civics and National education textbooks as well as the “Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Education 2009-2013” considering themes such as the rhetoric around democracy, citizenship identity, and civic skills as well nationalism and belonging. Finally, the paper concludes that Citizenship education in Jordan aims to promote “blind patriotism”  and seeks the “functionalization” of Islam for political legitimization. Moreover, democratic priciples are often idealized and depicted as contingent to cultural relativism.

Thank you!

I think that over the course of this class, the readings and the classroom discussion but most of all Dr. Kendhammer’s critiques helped me understand that democracy is not a one faceted concept, it is not ideal but it is proved to be the most convenient system of governance so far.

The highlight of the semester was the democracy index. I learnt a lot in the process especially that I have never done something similar before. Despite from being a great practice, it made me rethink how measurements are being implemented arbitrarily.

Until I came to this realization, I had a lot of pride seeing that Tunisia is green (Free)on the Freedom House Index. Now I know that we are far from democratizing but we’re on the way (maybe). As we discussed in class, a thicker understanding of democratization following an authoritarian prevalence entails getting rid of the world order. So no more unenlightened pride for me!

One other concept that we focused on is Political participation and democratic knowledge. While all notions of democracy assume an informed and participatory citizenry, and that means discussion of democracy must include a discussion of media. And here where the trick was! Because news coverage is all about what is going on in the parliament and the capital, I had to call in and ask my family and friends who is the mayor of my hometown and if anyone attended a city meeting. And to my surprise, little is known about these two. However, everyone is up-to-date about what is going on the bigger political scene.

Finally, I think as someone who believed in change, I figured that I am seeing things from one perspective. Our conversation about the enfranchisement is one that I found very compelling. If knowing that a fast scale moving forward the enfranchisement and an expansion of the rights will lead to a massive outbreak of violence and Unintended consequences, then that would explain the reluctance in bringing forth these changes at once.

So take a class with Dr. Kendhammer or keep trying to understand complex political, social and economic concepts in the simplest and most hilarious way possible!

Who’s to blame?

According to Zakaria, the West populist revival has its roots in the confluence of public opinion on the economic approach, the divergence of opinion on the cultural aspect and the resistance against the waves of immigration. These pillars of populism is what gave rise to rhetoric of right wing such as Marine Le Pen for instance who also endorsed Trump and Donald Trump winning the US elections. The rise of right wing and revival of populism is henceforth something that was expected since politics at some point became so elitist and exclusive to certain groups who speak a language that the masses cannot easily understand or catch on. On the other hand, I am not so much convinced by the explanation for Trump’s victory that maintains that the rural America voted for him. It seems inaccurate to me because if you look at the votes , not all of it is the rural america, it seems to me that urban cities made their compromises as well. Not to say that all of these have the same ideology that is being advanced and not that they whoever voted for Trump agrees with everything he or one of his administration says but choices were made differently. The same argument applies for the “generation gap” argument brought forth by Zakaria. It’s not like these will do things differently because they are not old and unable to be flexible as opposed to the vibrant young people who got it all right and are so open to everything! That doesn’t stand either from my point of view. Again just like Academe is about speculations, I am making my own as well. On polarization, I have mixed feelings and I stand in between. I will reiterate my thoughts on one of the previous blog posts, I don’t see polarization as 100% detrimental for democracy, it sometimes makes things easier. Too much polarization would hinder democratic processes however  polarization makes it easier to choose. Pluralism, on the other hand, is a practical option but I find it hard to distinguish between numerous political parties while there is a lot of overlap between their goals, shared values, ideological stands (…etc). this, I think, does not help voters chose nor does it help the democratic process.

Research Journal #10

Well as we are approaching the submission deadline and now that I am done with the methodology section, I started working on the case study part. So far, I divided this section to four parts: (1) Citizenship identity  (2) attributes of a good citizen (3) civic activities and skills (4) the disconnect form reality.

For the methodology, I Use Van Djik’s Content Analysis (CA).  Since the paper is seeking to read and interpret the state’s underlying logic from engaging in Civics education , I concluded that that Content analysis is the best fit as it “tracks power enactment and discourse production” (Van Dijk, 1993, p.261).

The CCP slow crackdown

I believe I came across the CCP political survival toolkit but amid these strength, Dickson doesn’t immortalize it, he concludes that the CCP is facing very tough challenges. The party regime has done all to propagate the stability myth, happiness, and satisfaction placebo but whether this is successful or not is still up to speculations and predictions. These attitudes, according to Dickson are affected by the regime’s quick-witted use of various tools. Be it repression, propaganda, economic performance, controlled channels for complaints, limited toleration of civil society groups.
The grip fist that the CCP has on different key components of society is but extremely tight and it has proven successful at previous occurrences. For instance, following the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, China’s civil society and dissidents shied away and were crippled that they are incapable of taking advantage of any cracks in the regime.
Also no matter how the elite do not concur to the politics or the fact that they want to fight corruption they still won’t bring about any political change. The sentiment that is reigning is that without the protection of the CCP they will be preys and no longer predators, that their privileges will be revoked once the regime collapses. In addition to this rational choice, patriotic sentiments, nationalism and a sense of cultural commitment, all of which are the byproduct of the CCP regime are rampant in society.
However, raising the living standards and economic development that the party state and the model that it is creating is most likely to diverge from guaranteeing its immortality and eternal reign to bring about its own demise. The reverse of the spell is most likely to be furthered by the present crackdown in the regime and the party. The CCP’s internal rift is growing in times the CCP still has a lot to prove in its political legitimacy. While in the previous post, I argued that the regime is maintaining its legitimacy by the remarkable economic growth, the same growth is nevertheless turning not enough.
While a 7.4 percent annual growth rate is a significantly impressive, it is not too much compared to other emerging economies. The Chinese economy definitely needs higher speeds to outperform the emerging economies in other countries. Also, China is facing a more serious problem which is unemployment. All this to say that CCP political survival toolkit is gradually proven to be outdated and needs either to come up with better political and social control strategies or face the inevitable fate to democratize.

Research Journal #9

After the meeting with Dr Kendhammer, I have a sense on how to reframe my research question and orient my literature review to render it more precise and relevant to my case study or let’s say the region I am interested in.

Since I need to start working on my case study, I began going through the textbooks I have and translating the content. I am working on Post Arab Uprisings Civics textbooks in Jordan from 5th to 10 th grade. Most Arab countries start teaching Civics from the 5th grade and discontinue it on 10th. The argument is that students must focus on “more relevant” subjects to their envisaged career.  The other argument is that by that age students are made aware of political participation and can follow politics with informed opinions.

While consulting the textbooks, I am focusing on the definition of active participation, equality and the in-class activities after every unit. What is drawing my attention so far is the very sophisticated way politics are defined and presented to students. Moreover, it is interesting that the type of in class activities are based on memorialization rather than practice. I continue to explore the textbooks and take notes.

Gaddafitarianism; O’Donnel and Schmitter

I know I am one post behind so I decided to post for last week now (I hope it’s okay).

Part of why in some countries after the Arab Uprisings swept into turmoil can be traced back to a lot of pre-existing conflicts and social order, but mostly, no one understood the deep state. In addition, local conflicts tend to be overlooked in the study of civil wars and conflicts. Which makes the strength of some regimes like the ones toppled of “almost toppled” by the Arab Uprisings. The deep state is not an entity in and of itself, but rather a product of illiberal and opaque societies and regimes. Decapitating the heads of these regimes is something but then dismantling the regime is another whole level of revolutionary processes. These factors emerge in periods of transitions from authoritarianism to democratization. In the phase of a democratization, there is an “omnipresent fear” and the “possibility of a coup [that] is not fictitious “(p.23).

For Gaddafi or any other dictator to maintain power, I don’t think that we can talk about giving concessions to an opposition because it doesn’t and wont exist under his rule. O’Donnel and Schmitter maintain that restricted citizenship and access to rights are key to sustaining an authoritarian rule.  Appeal to nationalism and the hyperbole of an outside territorial threat also plays a crucial role in keeping the iron fist up and going.

political legitimacy; the CCP

Dickson’s book discusses the topic of political legitimacy. I think that it is a refutation of the modernization theory that posits that economic development opens eyes and make people demand Western-style democracy.

The author looks at how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sustains its rule. There seems to be a conventional wisdom that the CCP stems its legitimacy from the economic performs, its power from how easy it represses and get away with it for an obvious lack of civil society. But most of all, the CCP maintains its support from its resistance to change. While Dickson doesn’t refute how true much of this wisdom is, he questions some of these components.

While we might focus on the democratization theory of economic development, the regime doesn’t solely rely on this. It, hence, uses other tactics, including local reforms, providing public goods, nationalism, Confucianism, and co-opting opponents when applicable.

While democracy is conventionally defined in the existence of multiparty elections, Chinese’s definition of it is in the existence of fairness and justice. As long as the government is fair and serving the people, that is acceptable. The CCP’s slogan is in fact “serve the people” which helps their political legitimacy. Yes, there is a conversation that a CCP-free China will put China on the track of democratization and embracement of democracy, it however is not the ultimatum road to democracy, not necessarily the sole alternative. Few wish for the end of the Communist rule but do also think that dissidence puts stability in jeopardy.

Despite the fact that there is no opposition, the CCP consults with people creating a massive support to their legitimacy by appeal to nationalism. For instance, the effects of the 1999 embassy bombing in ex-Yugoslavia. Surprisingly enough, the national government enjoys more approval rates from the masses than the local governments which are supposed to be closer to the masses by virtue of proximity and resonance. The national government has also invested in Health Care after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). As opposed to wat is known, civil society does exist in China and NGOs are in fact active in China. while repression prevails, it is by selection and not random.

Research Journal #8

I think I am in a relatively advanced stage for my paper. Pending Dr Kendhammer’s  feedback and my group’s feedback as well, I think I only have the case study to delve into.

As my paper indicates, it goes as follows;  “The paper subscribes to the democratization processes but extends its analysis to one specific institutional arena; democratization through education in post-conflict Middle Eastern societies. First, it broadly reviews the most relevant literature on citizenship education. Then, it narrows its focus to state construction projects in post- conflict contexts, the portrayal of politico-historical facts in national narratives, as well as citizenship education as far as the MENA region is concerned.

In the section that follows, the paper illustrates these theoretical points with reference to the case of Jordan by means of a longitudinal study. This study juxtaposes previous findings and scholarly work with post-Arab Uprisings educational curriculum in the same country. The purpose of this study is to bring two periodization into conversation with the Arab Uprisings as the cut point.”




Research Journal #7

I guess I have the preliminary outline for my paper so far. I changed a lot and need to meet with Dr Kendhammer.

  1. Introduction
  2. Democratization Theory; a brief conversation of the literature
    i. Democratization and the Middle East North Africa
    ii. Democratization Through Education
  3. Citizenship Education
    i. What is Citizenship Education; definition
    ii. Literature review on Citizenship education (overall)
    iii. Literature review on Post-conflict citizenship education in the MENA region
  4. Jordan as a case study
    i. Longitudinal study; Jordan
  5. Conclusion