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Durham e-Theses
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Squaring the Circle: Legitimacy and the Lebanese State in the 20th Century

ABOU-JAOUDE, TAREK (2020) Squaring the Circle: Legitimacy and the Lebanese State in the 20th Century. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis shows that illegitimacy remained at the heart of consecutive attempts at Lebanese state-building that failed and resulted in repeated political crises. As such, the study argues that previous theoretical approaches towards understanding state legitimacy failed to capture the diverse nature of state-building in a fragmented polity. The thesis begins by exposing gaps in the literature of state building and why such approaches have clear limitations in explaining the fragmented nature of Lebanese state-building from the French mandate through to the eve of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. Broadly speaking, two conceptual and distinct sets of state-building theories are identified: the institutional approach and the societal approach. These two approaches are critiqued, with their theoretical underpinnings informing a critical exploration of Lebanese state-building. Process-tracing, married to the use of hitherto uncovered primary source material gathered from state archives in Lebanon, is used to isolate particular events throughout Lebanese political history that explores the direct causal link between the initial illegitimacy of the state and subsequent political crises. As the intricate details of Lebanese state-building are traced, and the crucial importance of political legitimacy in Lebanon is discussed, the thesis argues that existing approaches to state-building are deficient, not least in understanding the relationship between distinct Lebanese communal identities and the state. Indeed, the issue of Lebanese identity, widely seen as contested along sectarian lines, is directly linked to the absence of a ubiquitous idea of the state dating back to 1920. Ultimately, this thesis argues that the contested nature of Lebanese state identity, institutionalised through the state structures, culminated in – and directly lead to – the collapse of the state in 1975.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:State-building; Legitimacy; Political Stability; Lebanon
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Apr 2020 13:20

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