Civil Society Iraq

Gresham, Dr. JN and Linssen, Dr. Hub (2004) Civil Society Iraq. [Preprint]


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Civil Society Iraq (an Oxymoron if ever there was one)1 Jon Gresham and Hub Linssen* February 2004 Abstract This project began in response to a phone call, asking me (Jon) to help lead a reconstruction assessment team in Iraq, in April 2003. I wanted to attempt three other things on my trip: 1) To collect social systems data in the immediate post-conflict environment; 2) To test such data collected for internal validity; 3) To test statistical interpretations of data for application to projects of relief, reconstruction and development in Iraq. All three points were accomplished. Data was easy to collect, inexpensive to collect (thanks to pre-existing networks of friends), and when tested, had appearance of consistency & validity. When combinations of survey items were tested against each other, certain composite identities reflected either a "pro-change" or "anti-change" attitude. This was exciting! Individual characteristics such as religion, ethnic origin, etc, seemed to have little direct bearing on a respondent's attitude towards change in Iraq. But, certain interacting characteristics did reflect consistent and significant bias towards or against change (and the outsiders who wanted to introduce change). We surveyed 480 Iraqi people, in five locations, with a single page survey instrument. We asked them to provide basic demographic information, and also opinions as to intra-Iraq and extra-Iraq sources of threat to their future well-being. An additional innovation was that of publishing data, background information, and the research process onto a web page. But, instead of using a standard "read-only" form of web publishing, I used a "wiki." A wiki is a fully-editable internet forum where users can add, delete or change the content of the web page. This was risky, but I found that visitors to the site contributed pleasantly, with some emailing directly to me very valuable pre-publication research papers. By putting the work on the web, it allowed me to keep scientists, decision-makers, resource agencies, and Iraq fieldworkers informed by brief emails about web site changes. Follow-up is needed to confirm and deepen the pilot test data and conclusions. We found, for example, that moderate Arabs in Iraq were the most opposed to foreign involvement, and they were the most opposed to expatriate Iraqis returning to Iraq. On the other hand, those respondents with strong religious or ethnic identities expressed far less opposition to change, to foreign involvement, and to the return of Iraqis living abroad. All of this does have relevance to decision-makers and field workers in relief and development and reconstruction in Iraq. I would welcome comments on the web site: _____________ * Jon Gresham is a visiting scholar at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands. His work focuses on the Cyprus-Syria-Iraq-Iran area. Hub Linssen, Assistant Professor at the University of Utrecht, is an experimental psychologist with a specialist interest in cross-national comparative survey methodology.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:civil society, Iraq social systems, post-regime change, democratization, social network, social capital, appreciative inquiry, ERCOMER, repatriation, ethnic conflict, inter-ethnic, tribalism, nationalism, inter-group, ethnic identity, refugee, expatriate, terrorism, terrorist, social psychology, irak, iran, civil stability, linked, network analysis, utrecht
Subjects:Psychology > Social Psychology
ID Code:3473
Deposited By: Gresham, Dr. JN
Deposited On:06 Mar 2004
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55

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