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Defining Democracy: Democratic Commitment in the Arab World

Hannah M. Ridge
Defining Democracy: Democratic Commitment in the Arab World
ISBN: 978-1-68585-955-8
ISBN: 978-1-68585-653-3
2023/267 pages/LC: 2023013497
"Combines theoretical insights with impressive empirical evidence.... Ridge successfully unpacks the conceptual divergence between democracy and dimuqratiyya in the MENA region."—Sabri Ciftci, Kansas State University


The Middle East and North Africa comprise by all measures one of the least democratic regions in the world. At the same time, decades of research show robust support for democracy among MENA residents. A paradox ... or is it?

Hannah Ridge explores the "democracy paradox" by parsing the meanings that citizens assign to the Arab word dimuqratiyya. Drawing on Arab Barometer data from across the region, as well as original surveys in Egypt and Morocco, she shows that democracy and dimuqratiyya are typically not the same thing—and how conflating the two has led to misconceptions about public support for democratic governance.


Hannah M. Ridge is assistant professor of political science at Chapman University.


  • A Democracy Paradox?
  • Defining Democracy.
  • Defining Dimuqratiyya.
  • Dimuqratiyya and Political Behavior.
  • Democratic Commitment in Egypt.
  • Democratic Commitment in Morocco.
  • Making Choices.
  • For the People. 
  • Appendixes.