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Cross-National Variations and Trends in Islamic Fundamentalism- Expansion Project

a PSC Research Project

Investigator:   Arland Thornton

The objective of this project is to identify the social, cultural, and perceptual factors that influence the layer of the population that is sympathetic to Islamic fundamentalism, the layer that is oriented toward moderate and secular politics, and the layer that falls in between. The project has focused on Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria to (1) inspect the extent of the penetration of Western values into these countries and assess how this penetration is related to the nature of these countries? relationships with the West; (2) explain cross-national variations and trends in values; (3) construct attitudinal conceptions of fundamentalism and explain variations in such attitudes cross-nationally; (4) construct a series of indicators that are useful in predicting trends in values among the Islamic publics; and (5) assess the implications of this six-country study for U.S. security.

The project has thus far completed a total of more than 15,000 interviews from five major countries in the Middle East, including nationally representative samples of 3,496 Egyptians, 3,000 Iraqis, 3,039 Lebanese, 3,523 Pakistanis, and 2,003 Saudis, as well as 269 Afghanis and 400 Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. We are planning to carry out a similar survey in Turkey and are exploring the possibility of doing a phone survey of Iranians from Istanbul, Turkey. Because of the outbreak of civil war in Syria, the survey work in that country has been suspended.

We request this expansion in order to (1) complete the survey work in Iran and Turkey; (2) evaluate cross-national and interfaith variation in religious fundamentalism across all the countries covered by these surveys; (3) analyze predictors of attitudes toward violence against Americans on macro and micro level; (4) analyze attitudes toward democracy, secular politics, gender equality, and social individualism as well as variations in people?s conceptions of their identity; (5) assess trends in values for Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, where survey data are available; (6) evaluate the difference in people?s perceptions of development and Westernization as well as the types of changes in social institutions that they expect to happen if their societies become more developed or more Westernized; and (7) evaluate how variations in attitudes are linked to the diverse sources of information people rely on; domestic radio and TV, Satellite TV, the Internet, mobile phones, and newspapers.

Funding Period: 06/01/2009 to 12/31/2013

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