GLD Working Papers

Tribes without Sheikhs? Technological Change, Media Liberalization, and Authority in Networked Jordan

Geoffrey Hughes


This paper examines the ways in which Jordan’s rapidly evolving media sector is transforming the nature of authority in Jordan. An older generation of leaders, known as sheikhs, confronts technologies they often don’t understand and a new generation that has little respect for its elders’ ancestral claims. Amid a proliferation of social media tools that allow young people to use the idiom of the tribe to act quickly and decisively—even violently—in the political field without regard for their elders, the Jordanian government seeks to reassert control over a media sector that is increasingly international, for profit, and privately held. Yet a new generation of would-be tribal leaders is rushing into the breach. Drawing on case studies of sheikhs, police officers, and journalists, this paper argues that the future of authority in Jordan will depend on the continued ability of leaders to use media to move between various scales of socio-political organization, representing themselves individually while also convincingly standing in for lineages of various sizes and, indeed, the nation itself.


The Importance of Intersectionality: Gender, Islamism, and Tribalism in Elections

Kristen Kao & Lindsay J. Benstead


Many studies of electoral behavior and women’s electability in the developing world focus on single traits—e.g., religion, gender, and ethnicity. Yet, candidate identities affect electability intersectionally—i.e., identities are mutually constituted by social hierarchies, leading to complex, interactive effects—in ways that are underexplored in this existing literature. Using an original survey experiment conducted among 1,499 Jordanians, we examine the effects of multiple, intersecting candidate identities (i.e., gender, tribe, and Islamist party identification) on voter preferences. Respondents at random received statements about male or female candidates who were Islamists or co-tribalists and rated their likelihood of voting for each. We argue and show empirically that existing theories of electoral behavior cannot account for women’s electability without an approach that considers how social hierarchies intersectionally shape electability. We find that although less electable overall, female candidates fare as well as comparable males once intersectional identities are accounted for. Among some voters, women do better than men from similar groups. Our findings underscore the need to apply intersectionality to theories of electoral behavior in the developing world and lay the groundwork for a larger research agenda explaining women’s electability.


Ceasefires as State-Building

Marika Sosnowski


This paper views ceasefires as rarely only a “cease fire”. Rather it reconceptualises ceasefires more as particular types of wartime order that can have a variety of different state-building consequences on the ground. These include ramifications for local level conflict dynamics, the development of rebel governance institutions, humanitarian access and the renegotiation of claims to territorial and citizenship rights. Thinking about the state-building implications of ceasefires in civil war is relevant not only for academia but also for peace- and policy-makers. This is because if we move beyond seeing ceasefires as simply a tool for stopping or reducing levels of violence to better understanding the diverse effects ceasefires can have on the ground we can better manage the negotiation process and build any eventual peace.


Beyond the Democratic Paradox: The Decline of Democracy in Turkey

Yeşim Arat


This paper provides a close look at Turkey’s experience with democratic backsliding and argues that at different stages of this process, different structural and agential factors contributed to the decline of democracy in the country. It takes a “synthetic” theoretical approach--one that highlights the role of political actors, economic relations, political institutions and the importance of strategic coalitions, in understanding the gradual process of democratic erosion. The paper argues that the agential factors were important both in precipitating the decline and deepening it. Meanwhile, economic relations and weaknesses of institutions allowed the strategic coalitions to shape the process. The experience of backsliding in Turkey makes us aware that academics must also take into account the role of duplicity in the process, for the full picture of democratic decline is fashioned through a complex web of opportunism and deception.


Legacy Institutions and Political Order in Weak States: Evidence from Chad

Paul Thissen


This paper investigates variation in the ability of non-state institutions to produce political order in weak states. In countries with weak central governments, non-state institutions, such as chieftaincies, are often seen performing many of the functions of a state: enforcing legal codes, collecting taxes, guaranteeing property rights, and ensuring security. However, while some chieftaincies demonstrate an impressive command over their followers, in other places, residents feel free to disobey their chief’s edicts. To account for such variation, this paper draws on immersive fieldwork in Chad to present a theory of institutional time-dependent reputation and how it affects individuals’ compliance decisions. I explain how centuries-old institutions can command greater compliance than newer institutions, because people grow up knowing the institution’s reputation, believing they will be punished if they disobey its leader. In contrast, people are still formulating their beliefs about newer institutions, because they are unsure whether newer institutions are capable of following through with consequences. I corroborate this theoretical argument with new evidence from in-depth interviews with chiefs and a survey of 2,300 Chadian villagers across peripheral regions of Chad. I find that residents have higher expectations of compliance in areas where there are older institutions with established reputations, a finding that is robust to a variety of analytical approaches and statistical models.