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Can Islamists Become Moderates? Rethinking the Inclusion-Moderation Hypothesis

  • Jillian Schwedler (a1)


Recent years have seen a surge of studies that examine the inclusion-moderation hypothesis with reference to political Islam: the idea that political groups and individuals may become more moderate as a result of their inclusion in pluralist political processes. Most of these interventions adopt one of three foci: (1) the behavioral moderation of groups; (2) the ideological moderation of groups; and (3) the ideological moderation of individuals. After a discussion of various definitions of moderate and radical, the concept of moderation, and the centrality of moderation to studies of democratization, the author examines the scholarship on political Islam that falls within each approach. She then examines several studies that raise questions about sequencing: how mechanisms linking inclusion and moderation are posited and how other approaches might better explain Islamist moderation. Finally, she offers a critical analysis of the behavior-ideology binary that animates many of these models and suggests some fruitful paths for future research.



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* Numerous individuals graciously read various drafts of this essay and discussed its central arguments. I am particularly grateful to Jason Brownlee, Laryssa Chomiak, Janine Astrid Clark, Barbara Cruikshank, Sam Fayyaz, Pete Moore, Frederic Schaffer, Joshua Stacher, Gunes Murat Tezcur, Lisa Wedeen, and Carrie Rosefsky Wickham. Three anonymous reviewers for World Politics also provided detailed comments that considerably improved the essay. All errors and failings are of course my own.


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