Geopolitical and Personal Influences on Willingness to Participate in Political Action in the Middle EAST

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:45 PM
Room: Booth 51
Distributed Paper
Helen RIZZO , Sociology,Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology, The American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt
Anne PRICE , Valdosta State University
Katherine MEYER , Sociology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
This paper examines individuals’ willingness to engage in political action in five Middle Eastern countries (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Turkey) using the 5th (2005-2008) wave of the World Values Survey. We will also analyze the sixth wave (2010-2014) once it becomes available in spring 2014 in order to draw comparisons with the 5th wave. Analysis with the 5th wave demonstrated that individuals’ willingness to sign a petition, join a boycott, and participate in peaceful demonstrations was lower in the Middle East than in any other region of the world. Nearly 70% of respondents would never sign a petition; 75% would never join a boycott; and 72% would never participate in a peaceful demonstration. Counter to this finding, the Middle East, especially Egypt and Turkey, has seen high levels of political action over the last 4 years. We aim to understand political action in the Middle East by examining change in the percentage of individuals willing to participate between the 5th and 6th waves of the WVS. In addition to description, we will examine the role of individual personal characteristics and geo-political attitudes in willingness to participate. Analysis with the 5th wave demonstrated that geopolitical beliefs have the most predictive power. Individuals’ views regarding government and its institutions, particularly their beliefs about governance in their own nations, mattered. Personal characteristics (demographic and human capital) did not have so much effect as would be expected from earlier studies on different (mostly Western) populations. However, men and those with less education were the most willing to engage in political action.