Do public policy debates between activists from different ideological camps in a nondemocratic and illiberal system bridge social divisions or deepen them? Focusing on three controversies regarding family law in Jordan, we argue that activist groups rarely talk to each other in public, and when they do, their discourses aim primarily at mobilizing support within their own camps rather than addressing each other's concerns. Through media analysis, discourse analysis, and in-depth field interviews, we find much polarization and few attempts to build bridges, but also limited though very suggestive exceptions. Those exceptions rely less on public and democratic mechanisms and more on entrepreneurial state actors working quietly, talking opportunistically to each side, and emerging as powerful institutional actors. Authoritarian states can provide sites of deliberation, but deliberation seems to lead to principled agreement beyond the platitudinous only when an institutional actor within the state takes the initiative to get involved.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 30th September 2016 - 23rd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.