Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Josef Korbel School of International Studies, Center for Middle East Studies

First Advisor

Nader Hashemi, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Andrea Stanton, Ph.D.


Antonio Gramsci, Civil society, Oppositional politics


Patron-clientelism or wasta in Jordan is a historically engrained institution that crosses social, political and economic spheres. For those with sufficient resources to enter into its system of exchange, patron-clientelism grants access to university admissions, government privileges and employment. For those without sufficient resources, patron-clientelism creates a barrier to entry that sustains the marginalized status of persons from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Most scholarship about patron-clientelism portrays it as something dynamic, inherently neither morally constructive nor problematic but with the potential to be both. By focusing on various historical manifestations of patron-clientelism, such scholarship detracts attention from its reprehensible effects. Posing as value-free, this literature implicitly apologizes for patron-clientelism and reinforces the entrenched political and economic structures it reflects.

To step beyond existing literature surrounding patron-clientelism - the perpetually expanding but only marginally helpful registry of ways in which it manifests - requires deeper consideration of its effect. This thesis will argue that in the case of Jordan, patron-clientelism tends to function in the service of dominant fundamental social groups and at the expense of subaltern classes. Using Antonio Gramsci's civil society, patron-clientelism in Jordan will be shown to operate as a mechanism of authoritarian resiliency and a means of debilitating oppositional political currents. By understanding its existing ramifications in depth, potential for redirecting the function of patron-clientelism toward alternative and oppositional effects can be realized.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Stephen James Preisig


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

107 p.


International relations