The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) has published the twenty third issue of its quarterly peer-reviewed journal Omran, a journal dedicated to the social sciences and humanities. The Winter 2018 edition includes three readings in Historical Sociology on sectarianism and authoritarianism, two studies on patriarchy, as well as discussions on the latest topics and books. Also featured in this issue of Omran are selected paintings by the Palestinian artist Bashar Alhroub, from his project Silent Screen (2015). Renowned for his use of visual paradox, bright colors and dark humor to raise issues through art, Alhroub deals with history, politics, media, and the human condition as artistic entry points into the fate of the human soul and its suffering.
Studies in Historical Sociology
In the Article section, the first paper features a chapter of Azmi Bishara's forthcoming book Sects and Sectarianism: from the Word and its Implications to the Analytical Sociological Term. Bishara here tracks the linguistic, sociological and historical evolution of the term "sectarianism", making a clear distinction between this term and other historical phenomena such as sect, orders etc. He also delves into an analysis of other related concepts, such as "identity", "belonging", "difference" and "fanaticism'. Relying on a historical methodology, Bishara presents "sectarianism" – unlike its older derivative "sect" – as a modern phenomenon. He then compares between the evolution of the term in the context of modern Arab thought on the one hand, and its emergence in the modern Western sociological concepts on the other.
The second study by Raymond Hinnebusch, a prominent professor and researcher in political economy, is entitled "A Historical Sociology Approach to Understanding Post-Revolution Disagreement in the Arab Countries". The study examines the historical sociology approaches to understand state formation processes in the Middle East and North Africa, with the aim of establishing a model or pattern that explains the outcome of the Arab revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. Basing his analysis on the Weberian definition of the various sources of authority (i.e. charisma and traditional hereditary patriarchy) to understand the structural evolution of authority and the opposition, as well as their dialectic relationship, Hinnebusch challenges mainstream theories on democratic transition.
The third study by Hani Awad, a researcher at the ACRPS, is on "Revolution and the History of the Margins in Egypt: An Attempt in Historical Sociology". Awad uses the tools of historical sociology to understand the historical formation of the authoritarian elites in Egypt by exploring the historical relation between the modern state in Egypt and its peripheries. The author argues that the lack of political experience of the parties in Egypt led to a wide expansion of the central authority and the evolution of the Egyptian revolution and its outcomes. Using Thailand as a comparative case study in the historical evolution of politics, Awad concludes that the history of exclusion in Egypt has created a gap between broad social strata and the public political sphere.
Two Studies on Patriarchy
In the same section, Omran features two different studies on patriarchy and the status of women in modern social relations. The first is by expert on women and gender issues, Azza Charara Baydoun, who offers a new perspective on domestic violence in Lebanon through the analysis of recorded narratives of the perpetrators themselves: men. "Family Violence in Male Narratives: Results and Implications" comprises testimonies of 11 men who were violent towards their wives. Based on these testimonies, Baydoun offers a series of conclusions that could help improve the psycho-social rehabilitation of the perpetrators and the judiciary system in domestic violence matters. Furthermore, they contribute in assisting women organizations with a more comprehensive view of the dynamics of violence against women.
In a similar vein, Khalid Chahbar, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Ibn Tofail, presents a debate among three renown thinkers in sociology and anthropology on the contribution of women to the reproduction of male domination. In his article, Chahbar discusses an analytical debate on the subject between Maurice Godelier, author of The Making of Great Men, Nicole-Claude Mathieu, author of Political Anatomy: Categorizations and Ideologies of Sex, and Pierre Bourdieu, author of Masculine Domination.
The Translation and Book Reviews section includes a translation by Rachid Benbia of a study by Tayeb Chenntouf, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Oran, entitled "Fifty Years of Post-Colonial Sociology in Maghreb". The paper tracks the evolution of sociology in Maghreb since its inception, analyzing its colonial heritage, and illustrating the contexts that witnessed the launch of various institutions producing sociological knowledge during the colonial period and after the independence of countries in the Maghreb.
The Discussions Section comprises an analysis of a novel theory under the title of "Study of the Vulnerable Middle Class in Morocco: A New Approach", in which author Saadeddine Igamane, Professor of Sociology, analyzes the concept of middle class in the Maghreb from the perspective of what he terms "occupational vulnerability". Samir Seifan, a researcher in Economics, discusses in detail a book by the renowned author Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
Finally, in the Book Reviews section, a book entitled "Committing Suicide by Self-immolation among Unemployed Tunisian Youth" was reviewed by Elmehdi Lahmamed, while Nassir Mrouwwa reviewed "On the State: Lectures at the Collège de France (1989-1992)". In the Report Section, a primary reading in the first Arab Social Sciences Report was conducted by Mohamed Saadi under the title of "Social Sciences in the Arab World: Forms of Presence".