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Title: The dialectics between globalisation and Islamisation in contemporary Jordanian society : exploring Islamic modernities through economic behaviour and political identities
Author: Atzori, Daniele
ISNI:       0000 0004 2744 5931
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2013
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Islamism has often been studied by postulating a nature of Islam, from which social and political facets of Islamic societies, as well as allegedly fixed patterns of Islamic behaviour, are deduced. The present research challenges deterministic assumptions by locating the study of Islamism in the interactions between society and culture. In particular, the present study focuses on the social construction of Islamic identities in contemporary Jordanian society. Thus, it investigates processes of critical interpretation of modernity, maintaining that it is crucial to analyse processes of identity construction in their relationships with concomitant transformations of the political economy without, however, postulating deterministic causal links between economy and culture. This approach stems from the theoretically informed persuasion that “‘culture’ is a process intertwined with the dynamics of economy and power, and not a fixed essence working itself out through history” (Zubaida, 2012: 8). In addition, in the analysis of contemporary Islamic identities, Islamism plays a crucial role. This study, hence, is inspired by the persuasion that, in order to study Islamism, it is crucial to extend beyond the narrowly defined political domain. In this regard, Islamism is seen as an important prism through which to understand contemporary Islamic identities. Thus, this research explores a Jordanian case study in relation with this extended definition of Islamism as the role played by the Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan, singled out as relevant in the construction of contemporary Islamic discourses, as well as through the establishment of a network of Islamic institutions. This study considers Islamism not as an abstract set of beliefs, but as a grid of historically situated praxes, which therefore need to be studied in their particular development. Thus, the aim is to analyse the cross-fertilisation between economic practices and cultural representations, by examining to what extent social reality is understood through frames connected with Islamic symbols. Within the identified aims, the objectives of this study are to critically review the development of the concept of Islamism and relate this analysis to the historical context of Jordan. In this light, the political economy domain becomes relevant as the locus in which Islamists articulated their strategies and expressed the aspirations and frustrations of the new middle classes. In order to substantiate this study, quantitative and qualitative data analyses have been conducted using primary data collected through questionnaires and interviews to focus upon different facets of on-going processes of social construction of Islamic identities in contemporary Islamic societies. Both qualitative and quantitative methods have been adopted in order to provide a more nuanced understanding of social reality, including both static and dynamic aspects. Elite interviews aimed to gather primary data from both Islamist leaders and political analysts in order to formulate a deeper understanding of Jordanian Islamism. Focus groups led to analysis of the processes of social construction of Islamic frames in their making. Survey questionnaires centred on attitudes and perceptions of Jordanian students regarding social, religious and financial matters. The findings of this research illustrate the extent to which economic and cultural practices crossfertilise with each other, contributing to the emergence of new frames. Such a hybridisation between the paradigms of homo islamicus and homo oeconomicus is arguably giving rise to distinctive models of ‘Islamic modernities’, which can be empirically observed. Such findings challenge modernisation theories inasmuch as the latter postulate a causal link between modernisation and secularisation. Rather, what can be observed are processes of re-articulation of modernity through Islamic frames. The findings of this research suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood has played a remarkable role in this articulation process in the sense of ‘Islamising the modern’ leading to multiple or hybrid modernities. Another important result of this research consists of proposing a dialectical link between political economy and the social construction of identity by underlining the interdependence between economic and cultural practices. In our case, this can be observed in the fact that socio-economic transformations provide opportunity spaces for social movements to emerge and develop. Indeed, social movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood appear as agents of transformations and products of these processes at the same time. Islamist movements manage to express the aspirations and grievances of segments of the population and, simultaneously, are actively engaged in the establishment of networks of social institutions. All these findings can help in shedding new light on the on-going process of social change by highlighting the extent of Islamism’s contribution to shaping contemporary Arab societies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available