MESOP ANALYSIS : “Waves of Democratization, Waves of Disillusionment: The Arab Spring in Historical Perspective” (Charles Kurzman, Project on Middle East Political Science)

“Whiggish social science makes democratic reversals all the more unexpected and disappointing for us academic observers. If democracy is the fruit of long-standing social processes — the spread of education, global communication, rising incomes and networks of trade — then we expect political institutions to evolve with the same slow pace of change, or perhaps to catch up to the “predicted” level of democracy in a burst of surface tension. This form of causal analysis trips over the fundamental mismatch between generally slow-moving socioeconomic factors and the rapid ricochets of democratic trajectories. The lesson I propose is that our roller-coaster emotions at the coming of the Arab Spring were not just the product of an ideological commitment — the belief that Arabs could have democracy too — but also the product of a theoretical commitment — the belief that political outcomes have long-term or at least medium-term causes.


That theoretical commitment led many observers to identify the causes of the uprisings immediately after they occurred, and to consider it a failure that they had not foreseen them . In the years since, they have had to walk back some of those explanations, as the dependent variable has shifted. An older, alternative approach to democratization is to take the pessimistic view that experiments in popular governance generally fail.” Read all*Mideast%20Brief