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Political Culture in Qatar: State-Society Relations and National Identity in Transformation

  • Betul Dogan AkkasEmail author
  • Gilla Camden
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Part of the Contemporary Gulf Studies book series (CGS)

Abstract

Within the Gulf Cooperation Council states such as Qatar, societal changes are rapidly taking place that have lasting effects on the political culture of the region. Specifically, studies have identified the rise of a participatory type of new nationalism that is characterized by the mobilization of the citizenry in support of both the state and its ruling monarchs (Diwan, Gulf Societies in Transition: National Identity and National Projects in the Arab Gulf States. Washington, DC: The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, 2016). In Gulf rentier states where welfare distribution and tribal affiliation are interlinked, individual Gulf citizens are negotiating their own identities in relation to the nation, whether in regard to tribal affiliation, Islamic identity, or other aspects of belonging depending on the dynamics of inclusivity in their specific country contexts. As political culture is not inert but changes in relation to transformations in society (Molchanoy 2002), this study explores the impact of recent developments in state-society relations and national identity on the political culture of Qatar. Opting to collect data on the political opinions, attitudes, and values of a segment of the Qatari population through structured interviews similar to those found within previous larger-scale studies on political culture (Inglehart, Modernization and Post Modernization. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997) alongside a textual analysis of official government publications, this study employs a qualitative methodology to explore the political culture in Qatar and its relationship to state-society relations as it is experienced or ‘lived’ (Ely et al., Doing Qualitative Research: Circles Within Circles. London: Falmer, 1991) by Qatari citizens. Findings argue that traditional Qatari political culture is predominantly based on two sets of individual orientations: deference and the mutual expectations of the welfare state system as these relate to human capital dynamics. Due to recent societal transformations in Qatar and their impact on how its citizenry views national identity, we find that Qatari political culture may be undergoing changes that could have lasting and long-term impacts on the nature of state-society relations in this tiny, Gulf monarchy.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Qatar UniversityDohaQatar
  2. 2.Durham UniversityDurhamUK

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