Sectarianism and Counter-Sectarianism in Lebanon
In examining the social correlates of sectarianism in Lebanon, this paper first assesses the significance of two major factors. One is political and the other is cultural. It argues that the historical shift in power relations resulted in equality of power among the three major Christian, Sunni, and Shi'i political players in Lebanon. This change has thus removed the functional need for sectarianism in order to maintain the structure of power inequality. Drawing on data from a 2008 world values survey in Lebanon, the paper also shows that on the cultural level, the differences in Lebanese attitudes and value orientations toward historically significance issues do not quite fall on the confessional fault-lines, although Christians and Muslims differ significantly in their attitudes toward gender relations as well as religious fundamentalism. The paper then has identified the sets of factors that either reinforce or attenuate sectarian attitudes among the Lebanese public. Sectarianism is reinforced by religious fundamentalism and foreign intervention. Counter-sectarianism, on the other hand, is enhanced by inter-confessional trust and support for liberal values.
Country of focus: Lebanon.