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Duke University

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Program Name

Jordan: Modernization and Social Change


This paper discusses the current state of the electoral system in Jordan, its relation to and impact on the tribal aspect of society, and vice-versa. The prominence of tribalism in the electoral process has brought tribalism to the forefront of discussions on both the political system and social development in Jordan. There have been many accusations from intellectuals of a “return to tribalism” in the past couple of decades as politics in Jordan have become increasingly “tribalized.” Through a discussion of the different political and social mechanisms in Jordan, I conclude that the tribal sentiment in Jordan is not to blame for the failures of the political system. Instead, it is the system itself, along with historical events, that have caused elections to become more localized and “tribal,” resulting in an inefficient government. Furthermore, I argue that the tribal nature of Jordanian society can actually be used as a vehicle to promote democratic ideals, by instigating social change and championing tribal values that are compatible with democratic ones. In fact, this process is already beginning to occur today.


Comparative Politics | Political Science


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