Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society


^ Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society?
It is within the Gramscian view of civil society, affirmed by Foucaultian understandings of nonstate power, that it is possible to understand how the family Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society, networks, and alternative normative visions remain an integral, if controversial, part of Egyptian civil society. The codes of conduct, norms, and values that arise or are articulated within civil society, which will be Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society elaborated upon below, provide many of the rules that shape widespread behavior and expectations. In Foucaultian terms, they constitute the discourse of collective life. Cultural and social networks, anchored in the Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society institution of the family and legitimated by a normative order, organize power at the domestic level into certain configurations, enhancing the autonomy and plurality of civil society (Cohen and Arato 1992:345-6). [End Page 6]

This Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society brief summary of Western political discourse on civil society affirms the place of the family and networks in civil society and the normative positions that underlie such a position. Yet Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society there is a rupture between innovative theory and empirical research when the фокус turns toward the Middle East. Instead, family, tribe, and informal networks are dismissed as prepolitical forms (Zubaida 1998), vestiges of traditional societies Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society or primordial attachments that will wither away with modernity or socialism, fetters on productive society, the root cause of authoritarian, patriarchal political cultures, the foundational base of clientelism (Roniger 1994), particularly within authoritarian Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society regimes or the institutional setting for survival or coping strategies that merely reinforce hierarchy and domination (Bayat 1998, 1997).4 This genre of scholarship largely privileges formal, legal organizations or visible, oppositional movements, leaving informal Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society associations almost entirely out of the picture.5 As Norton suggests, "civil society [is] a mélange of associations, clubs, guilds, syndicates, federations, parties, and groups [that] come together to provide a buffer Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society between state and citizen" (Norton 1995:7). It is the mélange of associations, clubs, guilds, syndicates, federations, parties, and groups that have received the scrutiny of analysts of civil society in the Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society Middle East, while few have investigated other types of institutions or strategies that constitute a "buffer" between state and society, such as the family and informal mechanisms (for examples of the latter approach, see Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society Grey 1998; Akman 1998; White 2002; Carapico 1998; Wiktorowicz 2001; Joseph 1993).6 Yet buffers do not only take on a formal associational cast.

Halim Barakat suggests the "family is the center of social organization and constitutes the dominant Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society social institution through which persons and groups inherit their religious, class, and cultural affiliations. It also provides security and support in times of individual and societal stress... [and is] the basic unit Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society of production and economic activity" (Barakat 1993:98). What I find so odd about both debates and research on civil society is the way in which family and networks are still ignored or laden Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society with all manner of pejorative condemnation in Egypt and elsewhere in the region. Yet the family is such a powerful social, political, economic, and cultural institution in this part of Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society the world. If anywhere, one would expect that the extremely resilient institution of the family in the Middle East would persuade scholars of its political dimension. One cannot but note that kinship Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society is still the primary foundation of [End Page 7] political rule in Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates, Oman, Somalia, etc., and familial politics play a predominant role even within many secular or nationalist Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society regimes such as Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, etc. (see Anderson 1991; Herb 1999; Khoury and Kostiner 1990; Carapico 1998). Clearly, politics at the elite level is infused with kin relations, as the Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society rise of Gamal Mubarak in Egypt and Bashar Al-Asad in Syria demonstrate. Why is it, then, that most scholars consistently fail to see the political significance of the family and deny its Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society place within civil society?

Paradoxically, despite a theoretical inability to recognize the family and informal networks as political institutions, a wide range of ideologically diverse opposition movements to colonialism, to Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society imperialism, and more recently, to globalization, American hegemony, Westernization, and American military occupation in the Middle East has placed the family at the center of their oppositional strategies. As Paidar argues in reference to Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society Iran, "[t]he family and women have become the subject of a power struggle in the battle between the Western intervening powers and indigenous resisting forces. In this setting Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society, women have become the bastions of Muslim identity and preservers of cultural authenticity" (1995:23). Nationalist, modernist, and secular regimes and their supporters in the Middle East have sought to transform the institution of the family and Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society gender relations to "develop" their societies, creating the modern new man and woman in the process (see Hatem 1986, 1988). Partha Chatterjee reminds us of the violence and resources in some of these Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society capitalist and modernist initiatives to erase "tradition."

[T]here is the suppression in modern European social theory of an independent narrative of community—the concepts of the individual and the nation-state Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society both become embedded in a new grand narrative—that of capital. And this seeks to repress the narrative of community and produce in the course of its journey both the Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society normalized individual and the modern regimes of disciplinary power. For capital, the destruction of community is paramount.

(1990:128)

Despite these strategies that were transcribed on the family by many competing and divergent interests, a surprising Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society range of secular voluntary associations, political parties, politicians, interest groups, and state-sponsored associations—typically considered the basis of civil society—still [End Page 8] maintain a fundamental political blind spot by Whither the Family in Middle Eastern Civil Society? - Restoring the Family to Civil Society denying the family as a site of power and a space in which politics occur.
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