As a result, civic organizations in Qatar represent traditional, non-democratic forms of societal involvement -- opportunities to build broader connections, to have a life outside the home, but not opportunities to learn about and experience democratic politics or to mobilize support for particular policies. These associations are attractive to individuals who have political interest but choose not to channel it into genuine political activity because they either do not support or do not understand what actual democracy involves and, in any case, lack the confidence in the prevailing political system to believe that real political change is even an option. These associations supply social involvement and connections for persons who have broader interests but whose values and judgments do not lead them to think about politics in terms of democracy.
-Mark Tessler is Samuel J. Eldersveld Collegiate Professor of Political Science and Vice-Provost for International Affairs at the University of Michigan. Darwish Al-Emadi is director of the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute at Qatar University, where he previously served as dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Abdoulaye Diop is director of Research at the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute at Qatar University. Justin Gengler is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University in Michigan and former Fulbright Fellow to Bahrain