A Political Economy of the Middle East


Melani Cammett, Ishac Diwan, Alan Richards, John Waterbury

Fourth Edition • February 10, 2015 • 596 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813349381 • $57.00 USD$62.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813349398 • $36.99 USD$36.99 CAN

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A Political Economy of the Middle East makes a valuable intellectual contribution to the field of Middle East Studies and allied disciplines and focuses the connections between economics, politics, and the social, which are obscured in standard media analysis. I would highly recommend this book for courses on the Middle East history, economics, and politics and as the standard reference book for students and scholars on the political economies of the region.”
Digest of Middle East Studies

A Political Economy of the Middle East is the most comprehensive analysis of the political economy of development in the contemporary Middle East over the past several decades, examining the interaction of economic development processes, state systems, state policies, and social actors in the Middle East.

The fourth edition, with new authors Melani Cammett and Ishac Diwan, has been thoroughly revised, with two new introductory chapters that provide an updated framework with which to understand and study the many changes in demography, education, labor markets, urbanization, water and agriculture, and international labor migration in the recent years. The new edition also includes: a new chapter that charts the political economy of the Gulf states and in particular the phenomenal growth of oil economies; a new chapter on the growth of the private sector and its effects in the region; a new chapter on the rise of “crony capitalism;” and increased coverage of the changes in civil society and social movements in the region including an exploration of the causes, dynamics, consequences, and aftermath of the Arab uprisings.


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MELANI CAMMETT is professor of government at Harvard University. She is the author of Compassionate Communalism: Welfare and Sectarianism in Lebanon, and the co-editor of The Politics of Non-State Welfare.

ISHAC DIWAN is a visiting researcher at the Paris School of Economics and directs the Economic and Political Transformation Program at the Economic Research Forum. He is the author of Understanding the Political Economy of the Arab Uprisings.

ALAN RICHARDS is professor of economics and environmental studies, emeritus, at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

JOHN WATERBURY is William Stewart Tod Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Emeritus, at Princeton University.

Chapter 1 Introduction and Framework of the Study
Chapter 2 Economic Growth and Structural Change
Chapter 3 Political Regimes
Chapter 4 The Impact of Demographic Change
Chapter 5 Human Capital: Health, Education, and Labor Markets
Chapter 6 Water and Food Security
Chapter 7 Rise and Fall of State-Led Development
Chapter 8. Structural Adjustment and the Rise of Crony Capitalism
Chapter 9 Political Economy of the Gulf
Chapter 10 The Military
Chapter 11 Solidarism and Its Enemies: Civil Society and Social Movements in the Middle East
Chapter 12 Is Islam the Solution?
Chapter 13 Regional and Global Economic Integration
Chapter 14 Conclusion

“This volume is refreshing, timely, and essential.” —Middle East Quarterly

A Political Economy of the Middle East makes a valuable intellectual contribution to the field of Middle East Studies and allied disciplines and focuses the connections between economics, politics, and the social, which are obscured in standard media analysis. I would highly recommend this book for courses on the Middle East history, economics, and politics and as the standard reference book for students and scholars on the political economies of the region.”
—Digest of Middle East Studies

“The volume remains by far the best single work on the political economy of development in the contemporary Middle East. Highly recommended.”
—Choice

Praise for the previous editions:

“This book’s strength is its conceptual, rigorous approach– it is a real textbook of political economy, not a pseudo-journalistic descriptive text on the Middle East.”
—Jacek Lubecki, Georgia Southern University

“For those who wish to give a course on the Middle East that emphasizes economics, there really is no alternative book.”
—Michael Twomey, University of Michigan

“Given ongoing developments in the Middle East and North Africa, this updated edition is most welcome and remains a valuable resource for its comprehensive coverage of the relevant economic, political, social, and religious issues affecting the region… [T]his well-written book is the ideal text for a course on the political economy of the region and also for a variety of other courses in the growing field of Middle Eastern studies. Its nontechnical style makes it accessible to those new to the subject. Highly recommended.”
—Choice

“Interesting, informative, and challenging.”
—Choice (outstanding title)

“Richards and Waterbury successfully presented a comprehensive study of the Middle East economies in the first edition of this book, [which was] interesting, informative, and challenging, and many Middle East scholars have found it an indispensable reference source. This second edition is just as successful.… This outstanding book is a must for any library collection.”
—Choice

“The best text on the political economy of the Middle East. The analysis is deep and the coverage is comprehensive.”
—Maen Nsour, George Mason University

“This is one of the best all-around textbooks on the Middle East I know, and the updated edition even improves its status.”
—Uri M. Kupferschmidt, University of Haifa

“Comprehensive and readable presentation of a complex subject, treated with candor and objectivity. A unique, stand-alone text.”
—John Entelis, Fordham University

“In analyzing the ongoing socioeconomic transformations of the Middle East, Richards and Waterbury provide remarkable insights into both the commonalities that give the region its identity and the many variations among countries. They recognize that the region’s actors are driven by material as well as nonmaterial concerns, and they identify linkages between political institutions and economic patterns. Clear, informative, and amply documented throughout, the book is unique in its scope.”
—Timur Kuran, University of Southern California

“Richards and Waterbury have written a study that should stand not only as the definitive description of the region at the end of the 1980s, but also as a model of political economic analysis.”
—Journal of Developing Societies

“This rich work should form the centerpiece for future study of the economic development of the Middle East.”
—Current History

“This is an excellent, well-written book … a rich tapestry that does justice to the complex subject at hand. Their sociopolitical analyses of the political regimes, the military and the state, and class interests are perceptive and thought-provoking. … This is a book that I would strongly recommend—not only to all those concerned with the Middle East but also to many of those concerned with development issues in these complex times.
—Finance and Development

“Each generation produces a limited crop of important books on the Middle East. A Political Economy of the Middle East… is one of these books. In a thorough and methodical manner, Richards and Waterbury address the hard development issues, including the role of natural resources, population, agriculture, the growth and frequent dominance of the public sector, and the military as an actor in politics as well as the economy. … In sum, A Political Economy of the Middle East is truly a significant book. It is strongly recommended to anyone who desires a better understanding of the socio-economic forces that drive the region.”
—Middle East Insight

“Seldom has a book been more timely. This volume for years to come will be one of the standard sources for those interested in the Middle East and North Africa.”
—The Annals of the American Academy

“This important and stimulating book will be useful for all students of the contemporary Middle East. Richards and Waterbury provide a comprehensive interpretation of the main structural features of the region in the second half of the 20th century. Not the least of this book’s virtues is the author’s decision to cover the area from Morocco to Iran, including Turkey and Israel. A second virtue is their insistent focus on human beings, represented in social classes, as the subjects and objects of political and economic change. … This book is clearly a substantial achievement.”
—Lisa Anderson, Columbia University in International Journal of Middle East Studies

“This is one of the most important books about the Middle East to appear in the last thirty years. Richards and Waterbury have broken new ground with what is the first systematic political economy analysis of the region. … Their landmark study will make us rethink the conventional wisdom about Middle East politics.”
—Michael C. Hudson, Georgetown University

“This informative, analytic, and thoughtful book is by far the most comprehensive and best politico-economic study of the Middle East and North Africa. It is the just the book I would like to use in my classes. I wish I had written it.”
—Charles Issawi, Princeton University

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