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Islamic culture and democracy: Testing the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis

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Chapter Summary

In seeking to understand the causes of the events of 9/11 many popular commentators have turned to Samuel P. Huntington's provocative and controversial thesis of a ?clash of civilizations.' What has been less widely examined, however, is systematic empirical evidence of whether the publics in Western and Islamic societies share similar or deeply divergent values, and, in particular, whether any important differences between these cultures rest on democratic values or on social values. This chapter throws new light on this issue by examining cultural values in seventy-five nations around the globe, including nine predominately Islamic societies, utilizing the World Values Survey/European Values Survey (WVS/EVS) 1995-2001. It briefly outlines the Huntington thesis and the response by critics, and lays out the study's research design including the core hypothesis, comparative framework, and survey data. Finally, it analyzes the evidence, and summarizes the results and reflects on their implications.

Keywords: Clash of Civilizations; cultural values; democracy; European Values Survey (EVS); Huntington thesis; Islamic culture; social values; Western societies; World Values Survey (WVS)



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