This article is a summary of the book Civil Society and Democratization in the Arab World (Routledge, 30th September 2010).
This book illustrates that the popular view in political sciences and policy making that civil society activism plays an important role in processes of democratization is for many reasons not valid for Arab countries. Building on Jamal’s work (2007), this study by Francesco Cavatorta and Vincent Durac discusses the authoritarian and sectarian wider political context of countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Yemen and Lebanon. These contexts have specific effects that tend to move away from the conventional wisdom that civil society activism generates democratizing trends. More significantly, civil society activism in authoritarian and sectarian settings strengthens the authoritarian regimes.