Social Capital, Islam, and the Arab Spring in the Middle East

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To what extent do participatory civil society dynamics, rooted in self-assertive social capital, help explain the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011? How do pro-democratic Arab attitudes matter in promoting elite-challenging collective actions? Does Islam support or hinder elite-challenging, self-assertive social capital? To answer these questions, this study systematically examines the variation in self-assertive (emancipative) social capital in Egypt and Jordan from a comparative perspective. By using emancipative social capital theory, this article embarks on an individual-level quantitative analysis derived from the World Values Survey database to explore the empirical nexus between pro-democratic attitudes, elite-challenging actions, and Islamic values in order to partly explain comparatively high-intensive and persistent uprisings in Egypt and relatively low-intensive and less persistent demonstrations in Jordan. The findings offer critical insights in understanding the social capital dimension of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and contribute new clues about empirical interactions between Islamic resurgence and civil society dynamics in the Muslim world.