Lebanon's Predicament

Lebanon's Predicament

Lebanon's Predicament

Lebanon's Predicament

Excerpt

In much of my teaching and research, during the past two decades, I have had an abiding interest in documenting processes of continuity and change in some of the institutional arrangements of Lebanese society. Initially, the effort took the form of limited case studies of family firms, voluntary associations, and labor unions but gradually extended to involve explorations of political leadership, transformation of urban neighborhoods, and the nature and consequences of civil violence in a pluralistic and fragmented political culture.

I have also had the opportunity of being involved at the national and municipal levels in efforts, modest as they are, of reconstruction, urban planning and community development. In both spheres--the scholarly and the applied--I became poignantly aware of an underlying tension between some of the distinctive sociocultural attributes of Lebanese society and its inability to transform itself into a more orderly, just and edifying entity. Lebanon, as it were, is gripped by the horns of a nagging predicament: the very forces that enable the Lebanese at the micro and communal level and from which they derive much of their social and psychic supports, disable them at the macro and national level by eroding their civic consciousness and symbols of national identity. The formation and deformation of Lebanon, as it were, are rooted in the same forces. The recurrence of violence is, after all, one indication that the Lebanese have not as yet developed the appropriate political formula that allows them to live in both worlds, so to speak, by retaining and reconciling both forms of loyalties.

The essays in this volume, albeit in different ways, are all efforts at elucidating the nature and manifestations of such a predicament. Where possible, attempts are also made to suggest alternative options to resolve or mitigate some of its adverse consequences.

During the earlier period of my research, I did not find it necessary to draw any theoretical inferences or challenge existing conceptual models.

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