Global Civil Society

Interest Groups and Political Development in Turkey, Princeton University Press, 1984, Princeton Legacy Library, 2016

The first in-depth study of the art of association in Turkey. Explores state-society interactions via labor unions, business groups, professional syndicates, farmer and craft organizations as well as local associations devoted to mosque building, religious study, culture, sports, and social welfare. Compares interest group politics in Turkey with divergent patterns in Western Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Unruly Corporatism: Associational Life in Twentieth Century Egypt, Oxford University Press, 1989

The power of Egypt’s authoritarian state has been eroded by assertive associations demanding greater democracy, economic nationalism, and cultural diversity. Spotlighting the growing importance in Egypt of professional syndicates, labor unions, agricultural cooperatives, businessperson’s associations, and religious groups, this study examines the increasing vitality of Egyptian civil society. Bianchi shows how Anwar Sadat’s attempt to replace these associations with rigid corporatist controls contributed to his downfall just as similar policies undermined other authoritarian regimes in Iran, South Korea, and India.

Alaa Awad


“Indispensable to the students of Egypt, the Middle East, and the Third World.”―International Journal of Middle East Studies

“A nuanced tracing of the meandering state role in Egyptian associational life through the Ottoman, British, monarchical, Nasserite, and contemporary eras.”―American Journal of Sociology

“Offers a comprehensive history of the evolution of interest group politics in modern Egypt. Bianchi provides valuable, balanced, and judicious analysis of corporatism’s subtle effects. This is the first, and likely to remain the best, global study we have of Egyptian interest groups.”―Yahya Sadowski, The Brookings Institution

“An outstanding piece of scholarship. It deals with an important subject, is based on both original research and a good use of available sources, and provides both an important descriptive analysis and a contribution in broader comparative and theoretical understanding.”―John Voll, University of New Hampshire

” [This] groundbreaking study of associational life in Egypt viewed in relation to the center of political power…is comprehensive, rich in details, and insightful….based on years of direct personal observation, interviews, systematic data collection, documentary and secondary literature….I have learned a great deal from reading Bianchi’s book,…as I am sure many more will do among specialists on Egypt and comparativists in general.”―Iliya Harik, University of Indiana

“Bianchi tells an honest story. He does not try to hammer it artificially into corporatist frameworks that miss reality. We still know scandalously little about the politics of most LDCs, and Bianchi’s stories bring one corner of Egypt’s politics into much sharper focus.”―John Waterbury, Princeton University

“A cogent book that analyzes Egypt’s economic and political problems within a theoretical framework. A must for political scientists, historians of modern Egypt, and other interested readers.”―Afaf Lufti al-Sayyid-Marsot, UCLA

“Bianchi has provided a ground-breaking study of corporatism and associational life in Egypt in a study commendable for its methodological rigor as well as its analysis of major associations. Must reading for students of Middle East and comparative politics.”―John L. Esposito, College of the Holy Cross

“Unruly Corporatism is driven by serious theoretical concerns―driven but not obsessed. As his title suggests, Robert Bianchi is alert to the awkward fit between the big categories or grand theories and Egypt’s quite distinctive and powerful social and historical realities. The result is a study whose theoretical angles of vision brings out new developments of the Egyptian landscape―the ‘capitalist renaissance’ of an aggressive private business sector alongside the ‘Islamic revival,’ the renewal of statecraft by Mubarek alongside the social dislocations and economic drift of the eighties―while placing the Egyptian story in the context of the theoretical debates that engage scholars working in the broad political economy orientation. Egypt, for all is present problems, is an important Third World society and Bianchi’s useful work gives us yet another way to understand why.”―Raymond Baker, American University in Cairo

“By refocusing our attention on the neglected subject of interest groups in Third World political systems, Robert Bianchi is performing a valuable service. This study of associational politics in Egypt combines a sophisticated application of theory with a solid, down-to-earth understanding of Egyptian politics. It is a welcome addition to the new debate among political scientists of the Middle East on the relations between authoritarian states and increasingly unruly societies.”―Michael C. Hudson, Georgetown University

“Unlike the Sphinx, Egypt bewilders not by its silence, but by the cacophony of its voices. In his valuable new book, Robert Bianchi listens to many of these voices, from moonlighting bureaucrats, lethargic state industry managers, noveaux riches infitah entrepreneurs, enterprising officers, defiant black market dealers, independent-minded judges, or self-reliant Islamic fundamentalists. The government seeks to contain the divergent interests of these and other groups within an essentially corporatist structure of state-run unions, syndicates, and associations, but it is challenged by independently organized groups which produce an increasingly ‘unruly corporatism.’ Bianchi presents the bewildering complexity of the Egyptian political process with both the rich detail it deserves and the exemplary analytic clarity it requires. A major achievement in the field of Third World state-society relations.”―Peter von Sivers, University of Utah

“An excellent and much-needed description of Egyptian civil society. ..In this painstakingly researched examination of professional associations and labor unions, business groups and religious organizations, Bianchi shows that Egyptians are organized, active, and increasingly prepared to test the limits of state policy. This study breaks new ground and, in doing so, suggests how much we have yet to do in exploring state-society relations in the Middle East and North Africa.”―Lisa Anderson, Columbia University

Organized Interests as Social Development Partners: Concepts and Techniques, World Bank Studies in Development, 2001

Most interest groups are notoriously biased spokespersons for the broad constituencies they claim to represent. Even in the mature democracies of the United States and Western Europe, group leaders often speak only for themselves and a small fraction of their most privileged and assertive followers. The problem is worse in partial democracies and authoritarian regimes in which the state often represses and manipulates most types of associations.

If, in both old and new democracies, so many interest groups tend to distort the representation of public opinion and to corrupt the policymaking process, why should we pay them any heed?

World Bank Documents › curated › pdf

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