Trust & the Islamic Advantage

Named a 2022 Best Book by the American Political Science Association's MENA Politics Section

In much of the Muslim world, Islamic political and economic movements appear to have a comparative advantage. Relative to similar secular groups, they are better able to mobilize supporters and sustain their cooperation long-term. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Turkey, a historically secular country that has experienced a sharp rise in Islamic-based political and economic activity. Drawing on rich data sources and econometric methods, I challenge existing explanations -- such as personal faith -- for the success of these movements. Instead, I show that the Islamic advantage is rooted in feelings of trust among individuals with a shared, religious group-identity. This group-based trust serves as an effective substitute for more generalized feelings of interpersonal trust, which are largely absent in many Muslim-plurality countries. My book presents a new argument for conceptualizing religion as both a personal belief system and collective identity.

Read the introduction here.

Now available In paperback FROM Cambridge University Press And THROUGH Amazon

Read additional reviews of the book here, here, and here.

My first book was motivated by a puzzle: a rise in support for Islamic-based parties in vote-share, but no concomitant increase in religiosity. I explain the apparent disconnect by distinguishing between two aspects of religiosity -- personal piety and a religious group-identity. The latter supports cooperation and coordination within Islamic-based movements because it solves a critical trust problem among citizens.

Online AppendiX

To make the empirical analysis in the book as accessible as possible, I include mostly graphical depictions of raw data. But throughout, I bolster these with econometric models, described in the text but appearing here, in the Online Appendix. These are available alongside additional tables and figures that did not appear in the physical book.

The full set of appendices is available as a single download here, but the individual tables and figures are as follows:


Data for replicating these results are available elsewhere on this site. I welcome any and all feedback by email.