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Title: Communal Religion, Sectarian Interests, and Democracy
Authors: Hoffman, Michael Hoffman
Advisors: Jamal, Amaney
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Comparative politics
Middle Eastern politics
Political Behavior
Religion and politics
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Why does religion sometimes increase support for democracy and sometimes do just the opposite? In this dissertation, I present and test a theory of religion, group interest, and democracy. Focusing on communal religion, I demonstrate that the effect of communal prayer on support for democracy depends on the interests of the religious group in question. For members of groups who would benefit from democracy, communal prayer increases support for democratic institutions; for citizens whose groups would lose privileges in the event of democratic reforms, the opposite effect is present. The varying effects of religious behavior on regime preferences can be explained, in large part, by sectarian interests. Religious identity is channeled through political and/or economic concerns in determining attitudes towards democracy and redistribution. I test these claims both observationally and experimentally, using data from Lebanon, Iraq, India, and a cross-national sample. Through an original survey conducted in Lebanon in 2014, I provide a fine-grained analysis of the ways in which sectarian interests condition the effect of communal prayer on democratic attitudes. I find that communal religion, either through frequent attendance at religious services or through the experimental primes, increases the salience of sectarian identity, and therefore pushes respondents' regime attitudes into closer alignment with the interests of their sect.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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