[P4850] Arab public opinion research: Challenges and prospects

Created by Tamara Kharroub
Monday, 11/20/17 3:30pm


Since its inception a few decades ago, Arab public opinion research has grown significantly, yet this area of research still encounters substantial challenges and shortcomings. After the attacks on September 11th in particular, interest in Arab public opinion increased dramatically especially among private polling firms and government agencies, resulting in great disparity in the validity and reliability of the data and in the rigor of research methodologies. To date, there remains an intense debate over the validity, significance, and interpretation of Arab opinion polls.
Among the major challenges facing Arab public opinion research are contextual, methodological, and socio-political factors, to name a few. For example, methodological challenges range from structural such as difficulties in sampling techniques, to political realities that limit polling freedoms and engender fear and self-censorship among polled publics. Moreover, extreme opinions are often not accounted for due to lack of participation in polling causing sampling bias. With regard to religiosity and political opinions, survey methodologies typically fail to account for differences in perceptions among populations, where vast differences among Arab countries limit the means for comparability.
Despite a boom in public opinion research by scholars, private companies, and government agencies throughout the Arab world, surveys are scarce, methodologies not uniform, country differences not accounted for, and interpretation and explanation of data still inadequate. This area of research remains largely understudied and is deserving of more attention within Middle East studies disciplines. Given the evolution of the study of Arab public opinion and the emergence of new media technologies and the information revolution, this panel will focus on critically and systematically assessing the perceptions, challenges, and shortcomings of Arab public opinion research and providing conceptual and methodological solutions.
The panel is the first platform to provide a critical discussion of Arab public opinion research, addressing challenges to data collection, analysis, and interpretation, as well as thematic limitations and the field's academic positioning in Middle East studies. This panel aims to explore the state of Arab public opinion research through quantitative and qualitative research papers, answering questions about attitudes towards public opinion survey research in the Arab world, competing conceptions of public opinion in the region, unique challenges to data collection and interpretation in each Arab country, and providing conceptual models and recommendations as solutions to such shortcoming in sampling, measurements, cross-country variability, and interpretation of the data.


Arab Center Washington DC (ACW)


Pol Science




Mark A. Tessler

(University of Michigan)
Panel Participating Role(s): Co-Author;

Russell Lucas

(Michigan State University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Amaney A. Jamal

(Princeton University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Discussant;

F. Michael Wuthrich

(University of Kansas)
Panel Participating Role(s): Co-Author;

Sabri Ciftci

(Kansas State University)
Sabri Ciftci is an associate professor and Michael W. Suleiman Chair in Arab and Arab-American Studies in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. His research focuses on Arab public opinion, Muslim political attitudes, Islam and...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Justin Gengler

(SESRI, Qatar University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Tamara Kharroub

(Arab Center Washington DC)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;

Mohammad Almasri

(Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Jonathan Forney

(George Washington University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Co-Author;

Ammar Shamaileh

(University of Louisville)
Panel Participating Role(s): Co-Author;
Tessler, Mark A. (University of Michigan) - Abstract Second Author
Forney, Jonathan (George Washington University) - Abstract Second Author
Wuthrich, F. Michael (University of Kansas) - Abstract Second Author
Shamaileh, Ammar (Franklin & Marshall College) - Abstract Second Author