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ECPR Joint Sessions 2020 Sciences Po Toulouse

The Political Economy of Support for Sharia

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Interest Groups
Political Economy
David Siroky
Arizona State University
David Siroky
Arizona State University

Many scholars have argued that orthodox Muslims harbor attitudes that are more economically communitarian and politically illiberal, since individuals are seen as embedded within a larger community that places a premium on social order. Yet most studies have ignored the potential of Islam as an ideological platform for political reformers. Religion in general and Islam in particular has mostly been treated as a predictor rather than a derivative of political-economic preferences. This article suggests that, in the absence of credible secular political ideologies and representative political mechanisms, reformist-minded individuals are likely to use religion as a political platform for change. When Muslims are a minority in a repressive non-Muslim society, Islamic orthodoxy can serve as a political platform for politically and economically liberal forces. The paper tests these conjectures with original micro-level data from the Russian North Caucasus and the World Values Survey, and finds strong support for them.

David S. Siroky, Ph.D., Arizona State University
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