American University
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Regulating religious contention: Islamic collective action and patterns of mobilization in Jordan

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posted on 2023-09-06, 02:58 authored by Quintan Wiktorowicz

This dissertation examines Islamic collective action and patterns of mobilization in Jordan. Some Islamic movement groups mobilize through formal, grassroots organizations in civil society, while others operate through informal social networks. I argue that the differing patterns can be explained by state regulative practices. The Jordanian state manipulates the administrative apparatus to control the content of organized activities in civil society. It uses the law, permit requirements, and bureaucratic procedures to ensure that organizations are not used to mount a challenge to the regime or the political system. As a result, formal organization is more a mechanism of state control than an instrument of collective empowerment. Islamic groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which do not challenge state power are encouraged to mobilize through formal organizations. More radical Islamic groups, such as the Salafi movement, find organizational space limited or closed. Instead, the Salafis mobilize through personal networks based upon individuals with shared beliefs and do not rely upon formal organizations to achieve goals. Because the Salafi networks are decentralized, segmented, and fluid, they escape the regulative capacity of the state. This perspective challenges the implicit assumption of organizational efficacy in social movement theory and points to the relevance of informal social networks in less open political systems.



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Ph.D. American University 1998.


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