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Islam, the United States and multiple identities: An analysis of determinants of Muslim public opinion of the United States and its implications for U.S. public diplomacy

Posted on:2011-04-27Degree:M.P.PType:Thesis
University:Georgetown UniversityCandidate:Brown, Jessica ArinFull Text:PDF
GTID:2446390002451705Subject:Islamic Studies
After September 11th, 2001, much of the international relations discourse has focused on analyses of Muslim communities. Researchers have hoped to answer Fareed Zakaria's question "why do they hate us?" Samuel Huntington explains this phenomenon through a "clash of civilizations" between the West and the East. But is this focus on religion appropriate? Or are there other, more nuanced explanations for why communities abroad might think ill of the United States? The answer to this question has serious implications for United States public diplomacy, which aims to understand, inform, influence and engage citizens abroad to help further U.S. foreign policy goals. Using public opinion data from the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes survey the following analysis measures relationships between religion, culture and foreign opinions of the United States. To challenge the notion that religion has primary explanatory power over perceptions of the United States, this study will utilize three different theories of organizing the world's culture---namely Samuel Huntington's, Geert Hofstede's and Inglehart Welzel's---to identify other factors which help to predict foreign perceptions of the United States. Initial findings support the notion that Muslims as a group tend to have less favorable opinions of the United States. However, those factors which demonstrate positive and negative views towards the United States are consistent whether the full sample or a sub-sample of Muslim respondents, indicating religion alone cannot explain favorable opinions towards the United States. This study suggests that public diplomacy programming should not have a singular focus on shifting positive or negative views of the United States, but should help to promote core American values of media openness, free and fair government, strong education, active business and entertainment communities and democracy. Policies should aim to create educated, informed citizens both at home and abroad who can engage respectfully in debates which capitalize on the "multiple identities" approach theorized by Amartya Sen.
Keywords/Search Tags:United states, Muslim, Public
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