Public Interest and Civic Participation (PICP)

  • Hewa Haji KhedirEmail author
Part of the Middle East Today book series (MIET)


The overarching theme of this chapter is that relative strength of interest in issues which can affect broader communities in KRI is not effectively translated to actual and factual participation of people in civic initiatives. Put it differently, a wide breach exists between, on the one hand, individuals who display interest in issues such as democracy, human rights, rising prices and cleanliness of cities, and, on the other hand, the same individuals who demonstrate inability (not necessarily stated) to organize collective action to address issues that interest them collectively. Hence, there exists a situation of inconsistency between civic interest on attitudinal level and collective action on the behavioral level in the context of KRI. This chapter places emphasis on the structural determinant of civil society and draws attention to three forms of interaction between state and civil society in Kurdistan: a harmonious relationship with civil society by formulating an inspiring legal framework, to domestication and co-optation through illegitimate and unfair provision of financial support and intervention in internal affairs of civil society organizations to confrontation with “unfriendly” civil society. The chapter, furthermore, offers an explanation for the inability of protest movements in bringing about major changes in the politics and governance in KRI.


  1. Abdullah, S., T. Gray, and E. Clough. 2018. Clientalism: Factionalism in the Allocation of Public Resources in Iraq After 2003. Middle Eastern Studies 54 (4): 665–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Advocacy Committee for Journalists in Kurdistan. 2011. Report 7 About the Freedom of Media and the Rights of Journalists in Kurdistan region. Available at Accessed 4 May 2019 (Original in Kurdish).
  3. ———. 2017. Report 19 and 20 About the Freedom of Media and the Rights of Journalists in Kurdistan region. Available at Accessed 4 May 2019 (Original in Kurdish).
  4. Anwar, F.K. 2005. Mechanisms of Activation of Civil Society Organizations: Iraqi Kurdistan as an Example. MA thesis, University of Salahaddin-Erbil (Original in Arabic).Google Scholar
  5. Associations and Organizations Act, number 18, 1993, Kurdistan Parliament. Available at Accessed 10 May 2019 (Original in Kurdish).
  6. Elias, S.P. 2002. The Foundations of Civil Society in Kurdistan Region of Iraq. MA thesis, University of Salahaddin-Erbil (Original in Arabic).Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2007. The Role of Intelligentsia in Constructing the Civil Society: A field Social Study in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. PhD thesis, University of Salahaddin-Erbil (Original in Arabic).Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2010. Civil Society in Kurdistan Region of Iraq: A Socio-Political Study. Journal of Academy 14: 1–45 (Original in Arabic).Google Scholar
  9. Fung, A. 2003. Associations and Democracy: Between Theories, Hopes, and Realities. Annual Review of Sociology 29: 515–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Inglehart, R. 1990. Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Inglehart, R., and C. Welzel. 2005. Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Sequence of Human Development. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Jabary, K., and A. Hira. 2013. The Kurdish Mirage: A Success Story in Doubt. Middle East Policy XX (2): 99–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Juan, A.D., and E. Wegner. 2019. Social Inequality, State-Centered Grievances, and Protest: Evidence from South Africa. Journal of Conflict Resolution 63 (1): 31–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kirmanj, S. 2013. Identity and Nation in Iraq. Colorado and London: Lynne Rienner Publisher.Google Scholar
  15. Klandermans, B. 2015. Grievance Formation in Times of Transition: South Africa 1994–2000. Social Justice Research 28: 123–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lalik, K. 2017. The Continuity of Settlement of Social Feuds Among Kurds in the Kurdistan Region: The Case of Mektebi Komellayei. Anthropology of the Middle East 12 (2): 92–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Newton, K. 1999a. Social Capital and Democracy in Modern Europe. In Social Capital and European Democracy, ed. J.W. Deth et al. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 1999b. Social and Political Trust in Established Democracies. In Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Government, ed. P. Norris. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Non-Governmental Organization in Kurdistan Region-Iraq Act, Number 1. 2011. Kurdistan Parliament. Available at Accessed 10 May 2019 (Original in Kurdish).
  20. Organization of Demonstrations in KRI Act, number 11, 2010, Kurdistan Parliament. Available at Accessed 10 May 2019 (Original in Kurdish).
  21. Paxton, P. 2002. Social Capital and Democracy: An Interdependent Relationship. American Sociological Review 67 (2): 254–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Putnam, R.D. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  23. ———. 1995. Tuning In, Tuning Out: The Strange Disappearance of Social Capital in America. PS: Political Science and Politics 28 (4): 664–683.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.Google Scholar
  25. Shafiq, A.R. 2015. The Role of Civil Society to Amend the Legislation to Achieve Gender Equality: A Field Study in Kurdistan Region-Iraq. MA thesis, University of Mansoura (Original in Arabic).Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2019. Civil Society Organizations in Kurdistan. Erbil: KDP Professional Organizations Office (Original in Kurdish).Google Scholar
  27. Shafiq, M.N., J. Manson, T. Seybolt, and K. DeLuca. 2014. Are Student Protests in Arab States Caused by Economic and Political Grievances? Empirical Evidence from 2006–07 Arab Barometer. Peabody Journal of Education 89 (1): 141–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stansfield, G. 2003. Iraqi Kurds: Political Development and Emergent Democracy. London and New York: Routledge Curzon Taylor and Francis Group.Google Scholar
  29. The Right to Access Information in KRI, numbered 11, 2013, Kurdistan Parliament. Available at Accessed 10 May 2019 (Original in Kurdish).
  30. Tocqueville, A.D. 1840. Democracy in America. Vol. II, Revised Edition, translated to English by Henry Reeve. New York: The Colonial Press.Google Scholar
  31. Valdez, S. 2011. Subsidizing the Cost of Collective Action: International Organizations and Protest Among Polish Farmers During Democratic Transition. Social Forces 90 (2): 475–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wardi, A. 2005. A Study in the Nature of Iraqi Society: Are Arabs Different from Other Nations and are Iraqis Different from the Rest of Arabs?, 1st ed. Qum: Saeed Bin- Gabir Publications (Original in Arabic).Google Scholar
  33. Warren, M.E. 2001. Democracy and Association. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Watts, N. 2012. The Role of Symbolic Capital in Protest: State-Society Relations and the Destruction of the Halabja Martyrs Monument in Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 32 (1): 70–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. ———. 2016. The Spring in Sulaimani: Kurdish Protests and Political Identities. In Political Identities and Popular Uprisings in Middle East, ed. Shabnam J. Holliday and Philip Leeche. London and New York: Rowman and Littlefield International.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WinchesterWinchesterUK

Personalised recommendations