Abstract: In 2011, a popular revolution in Libya brought about the collapse of
a brutal regime, the disintegration of state institutions that were already historically
weak, and the dislocation of society and traditions. At the same time, thousands of Libyans
formed voluntary associations of all kinds throughout Libya, and continue to do so
notwithstanding these highly unfavorable circumstance... read mores. However, these associations do not
necessarily constitute a civil society - one that promotes civic values such as pluralism,
equality, and tolerance. Libyans had not experienced free associational life since the
mid-seventies; they lacked a culture of public participation; they were plagued by violence
and lawlessness; and they were stripped of institutions capable of promoting and protecting
civic engagement. Overall, the social, economic and political conditions that characterize
Libyan history and the post-Gadhafi environment are not propitious for the development of a
voluntary associational sector that possesses a civic political culture. In light of these
premises, to what extent do Libyan voluntary associations embody and express a civic
political culture (e.g. trust, tolerance, religious openness, support for gender equality,
political engagement) in comparison to the civic attitudes and political behaviors that
prevail among Libyans? And what explains the emergence of this civil society in such a
violent and lawless environment? Through the analysis of the data drawn from three
independent surveys conducted across the country between 2012 and 2014, I present a strong
and convincing body of empirical evidence, which shows that voluntary associations embody
and express a civic political culture. Moreover, on the basis of an in-depth inquiry
through dozens of individual stories of civil society activists and organizations I
identify two avenues that help to explain the development of a civic culture and a strong
civil society in unfavorable settings. The first is a process of exposure to foreign
information, behaviors and meanings that represent one facet of the phenomenon known as
globalization. It is driven by traveling, reading, connections to a diaspora, access to
satellite television, the internet, and to other forms of foreign information. The second
is the novel availability of a quasi-public space constituted by interactive communication
platforms available through the internet, and "smart" mobile phones.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of Diplomacy, History, and Politics.
Advisor: Katrina Burgess.
Committee: Zeynep Bulutgil, Melani Cammett, and Shai Feldman.
Keywords: International relations, Sociology, and Political