AJCS Fellow Delivers a Keynote Speech at Rabat Policy Forum 2019

[Al Jazeera]

The Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis (MIPA) hosted an international conference in Rabat to assess the quality of the political and economic institutions in Morocco in 2019. While delivering his keynote speech “Social Capital between State and Society: An Outside-in Refection”, Dr. Mohammed Cherkaoui argued for a Moroccan sociological imagination as a point of entry into the study of the interconnectedness between the individual agency and the political structure. He quoted American sociologist C. Wright Mills who wrote in 1959, “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” Mills believed sociology could show us that “society – not our own foibles and failings – is responsible for many of our problems.” Cherkaoui called for a holistic perspective can be motivating for us to move out of our academic silos, and contribute to a well-nuanced analysis of the performance of Moroccan institutions, and better collaboration between theories of the person, theories of structure, and findings of the fieldwork. He also entailed complexity theory as an explanatory framework for the study of how individuals and organizations interact, relate, and evolve within a larger social ecosystem.

He also addressed the development of social capital theory across the works pf Pierre Bourdieu in sociology (1984), Robert Putnam in political science (1993, 1996), James Coleman in education psychology (1988), and Francis Fukuyama in economic history (1996). Other theorists like Janet Holland have positioned social capital between an integration model and a model of injustice and inequality. However as Oxford scholar and former Director of the Development Research Group at the World Bank Paul Collier, believes, (slide 8) “Social capital needs not be confined to those social interactions which have unintended economic effects.” He asserts the broadest definition of social capital includes government, “since the contribution of government to income is to realize benefits which would not be achieved through the market, and these benefits will be durable because government is itself durable” (Paul Collier). Trust remains a very dynamic variable in the process; and is shaped not only by those socio-cultural networks, but also by public perceptions and reactions. We need to invoke social constructivism here, as Cherkaoui argued, to help map out both structure and agency dynamics. British sociologist Anthony Giddens asserts actors are reflexive; and their reflexivity is an aspect of social action, and, thus, part of structuration.

Cherkaoui pointed out that several internal and external indicators imply a variety of challenges the Moroccan establishment needs to address in 2019 and beyond. Let me highlight three specific drivers of the crisis: a 3-H dilemma: ‘Hogra’,(a sense of powerlessness and deprivation of dignity), ‘Hrig’ (an immigration alternative and the pursuit of crossing to Europe even in a risky journey in the death boats), and ‘Hashtag’, and Hashtag (as a conduit of venting on social media. This is an under-studied barometer for growing social malaise. Simultaneous vertical and horizontal erosion of social capital, and solidification of a protracted social conflict.

After the morning keynote speech, the Rabat Policy Forum 2019 discussed related topics in three panels:

Panel 1: Trust between Democratization and Authoritarian Resilience
• Imed Daimi, Trust Building in the Security Sector in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia
• Paola Rivetti, Functions of Political Trust in Authoritarian Settings
• Abass Boughalem, Society and State: Towards a New Social Contract”

Panel 2: (Mis)Trust in State Institutions
• Abdelatif Chentouf, Reforms and their Impact on Trust in Moroccan Justice after The 2011 Constitution
• Mohammed Berraou. Audit Anti, Corruption Bodies and the Question of Trust
• Rachid Aourraz, How Does Institutional Trust Influence Investments?
Afternoon lecture: Sonja Zmerli, Political Trust in the MENA Region: Specificities and commonalities with Established Democracies

PANEL 3: Social Movements, Citizenship and Political Trust
• Kathya Berrada, Institutional Changes: An Organic Perspective
• Anna Jacobs, People Protest, and Parliament: Challenges and Opportunities for Empowering Democratic Institution in Morocco
• Ingrid Heidlmayr-Chegdaly, Political Mistrust, In-Active Citozenship and Depoliticization.

AJCS Fellow Delivers a Keynote Speech at Rabat Policy Forum 2019 [Al Jazeera]