Some of the accomplishments and shortcomings of Arab sociology during the last few years are assessed from the perspective of Arab sociologists. This assessment of Arab sociology from the insiders' perspective involves reviewing selected papers presented at one of the most recent Arab sociology conferences, analyzing the results of a survey of 36 Arab sociologists, and describing in detail the major contributions of Arab sociologists and social scientists to the study of Islam, with particular reference to Islamic social movements. Recent socioeconomic changes and political events in the Arab world help explain the rising interest in sociology. Arab sociologists view their discipline as still in process of becoming and in a state of crisis. The sociopolitical and disciplinary aspects of this crisis and the solution suggested to remedy it are described. Arab sociological studies of Islamic social movements have the following features: an emphasis on the diversity, complexity, and historical specificity, of these movements, a recognition of the need for an interdisciplinary approach, a focus on the sociological characteristics of leaders and followers, analyses of the origin of the movements, and an emphasis on the need for a methodology more personal and subjective than the one used in the West. This research, as well as the survey of Arab sociologists, indicates that there is a noticeable trend toward the substantive indigenization of Arab sociology and that Arab sociologists are aware of the need to be innovative and flexible in their selection and use of research methods. These also show that there has been little theoretical indigenization of Arab sociology. This may explain, in part, the sense of crisis felt by Arab sociologists.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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