Beyond ethnic entrenchment and amelioration: an analysis of non-sectarian social movements and Lebanon’s consociationalism

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Research on consociational power-sharing divides on whether it provides a successful model for peacebuilding or instead exacerbates antagonistic ethnic divisions. In these debates, non-sectarian movements are either invisible or rendered as actors marginalized, co-opted, stripped of agency and disempowered by power-sharing. This article moves the focus away from ‘either’ ‘or’ analyses of consociationalism measuring its capacity to entrench or weaken ethnic divisions. Alternatively, it examines the different ways power-sharing effects a range of issues and groups and the varying modes of engagement generated by non-ethnic social movements in response. Power-sharing creates various dynamics that can result in either hegemonic compliance, constructive engagement, or active resistance by social movement actors that cross-cut ethnic cleavages. Using Lebanon as a case study, the paper examines movements that deal with sexuality, privatization and public goods, issues that are shaped by consociational institutions but rarely incorporated in power-sharing research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1370-1389
Number of pages20
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number7
Early online date7 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2018



  • consociationalism
  • power-sharing
  • Lebanon
  • social movements
  • peace building
  • LGBT rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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