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Abstract

With the rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East and right-wing populism in the West, the meaning and value of tolerance have become a focal point for academics, politicians, and pundits. Tolerance spans both social and political realms, covering treatment of different groups, such as women and minorities (identity-based tolerance), as well as treatment of different viewpoints (ideological tolerance). Voices from across the Western political spectrum criticize limitations on self-expression and movement for minority groups in the Middle East. As well, many suggest that low tolerance for sociopolitical differences is one of the key contributing factors to the failures of the Arab Spring. Yet one of the most oft-cited verses in the Quran is about toleration: “We have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another.” (49:13) The vast majority of tolerance research in political science takes place in the context of the US and other Western democracies (Marquart-Pyatt and Paxton 2007). This research defines tolerance as the willingness to grant rights characteristic of Western-style liberal democracies—such as freedoms of speech and association—to disliked groups. As a result, far less is known about tolerance in the context of autocracies and hybrid regimes, even though political theorists have shown that tolerance has evolved historically across sociopolitical contexts, albeit in differing forms (Murphy 1997). Outside of secular Western democratic conditions, what does tolerance mean and what does it require? Why tolerate—what are the benefits? What motivates tolerance? What does tolerance imply in terms of behavior? And what insights can academic work in the Middle East, and in Qatar specifically, provide to the world about how best to promote tolerance? To answer these questions, this paper analyzes data from an original, nationally-representative survey of 1000 Qatari citizens, conducted in March–April 2017. First, this analysis probes the behaviors associated with tolerance through a question bank of ten possible actions, which range from avoidance of and politeness toward those who are different to allowing them to speak on television, teach one's children, and occupy positions of power in society. These questions allow the investigation both to move beyond the “rights”-dominant view peculiar to tolerance in the West, and to test hypotheses from political theory (Forst 2013) about minimal (such as “mere” non-interference) and maximal variations on tolerance (such as respect and recognition). The latter are increasingly seen by theorists as better suited to the needs of today's more multicultural societies. Second, this study also uses a framing experiment to test the robustness of tolerance, drawing on the “slippage” hypothesis, which emphasizes the possible gap between abstract commitments to civil liberties and applications to concrete cases (Prothro and Grigg 1960). Half of the respondents begin with a question that asks them to identify groups they would not like to have as neighbors. Then, the tolerance question bank is presented, prefaced by asking respondents to focus on the concrete least-favored group(s) (thus meeting the “objection” criterion). To ascertain commitments to tolerance in the abstract, the other half receives the tolerance question bank first, so that respondents are not primed to think specifically about their least-favored groups. By combining the bank of questions on tolerant behaviors with a framing experiment, this research builds knowledge of the concept and robustness of tolerance in Qatar, and offers important lessons for state-led social engineering efforts to increase tolerance in non-Western contexts. Funding Acknowledgments: Qatar National Research Fund, National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), 8-389-5-051. Northwestern University in Qatar, Internal Research Grant, 172-7100013-10031823-17-1411. References: Marquart-Pyatt, Sandra, and Pamela Paxton. 2007a. “In Principle and in Practice: Learning Political Tolerance in Eastern and Western Europe.” Political Behavior 29(1): 89–113. Murphy, Andrew R. 1997. “Tolerance, Toleration, and the Liberal Tradition.” Polity: 593–623. Forst, Rainer. 2013. Toleration in Conflict: Past and Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Prothro, James W., and Charles M. Grigg. 1960. “Fundamental Principles of Democracy: Bases of Agreement and Disagreement.” Journal of Politics 22:276–94.

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2018.SSAHPD55
2018-03-15
2019-10-17
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