Islam, Religious Outlooks, and Support for Democracy

Despite a wealth of studies examining Muslim religiosity and democracy, uncertainty regarding Islam and attitudes toward democracy remains. Although the claims concerning the incompatibility of Islam and democracy are generally discarded, public opinion scholarship has yet to build much further from this important first step or incorporate a strong theoretical framework for analysis beyond this basic foundation. This paper seeks to integrate literature in social theory on religious worldviews with novel conceptualizations and measurement of distinct religious outlooks among the religious faithful to explain patterns in attitudes toward democracy. We construct a theory with clear expectations regarding these relationships and use the largest and best available survey data (Arab Democracy Barometer, Wave III) to test our predictions using latent class analysis and a series of multivariate regression estimations. The results of our empirical analysis reveal that there are important differences among practicing Muslims regarding the role that religion should play in the social realm and that these differences are relevant to the analysis of how faith shapes preferences for regime type and democracy. The analysis makes a significant contribution to the study of religion and political attitudes.

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