|University of Oslo
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The issue for this thesis, is how does social form and function in the authoritarian settings of the North African countries? The theoretical perspective of Putnam stresses the cultural norms of the community as the decisive factor in the shaping of the Social Capital and thus blames both the anti-democratic ethos of Islam and the unequal status between men and women in Islam for the low levels of trust in the Islamic world. A contrasting theoretical perspective by Jamal underlines, however, that political institutions (not culture) instill the levels of trust in the authoritarian countries. She theorizes that high levels of social trust map into lower levels of support to democracy, human rights, civic involvement and political knowledge. The findings of the statistical analysis, of three countries Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, that compare between the two theoretical perspectives of Jamal and Putnam indicate that, contrary to the predictions of the cultural school, Islamists and gender traditionalists enjoy high levels of trust. Conversely, secularists and gender egalitarians are alienated by a hostile, repressive and religious environment. The statistical findings confirm a central pillar of Jamal’s theory, that political confidence in the political institutions instill the levels of trust while the same findings undermine her second pillar concerning her democratic postulate, since that there is not a significantly statistical difference between high and lower supporters of democracy in function to social trust. The findings of path analysis confirm that the institutional variables, especially human rights and political confidence, are the most decisive in the shaping of social capital in the authoritarian settings of the three North African countries and thus in the formation of this capital.