Date of Award

Summer 5-14-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

First Advisor

Carrie Manning

Second Advisor

Charles Hankla

Third Advisor

Rashid Naim


Family law regulates the formation of marriage, divorce, marital property rights, child custody, inheritance, and spousal duties. This study aims to demonstrate how family law formation in the Middle East and North Africa reflects the struggle among social and political forces to capture the state and assert authority. The balance of power between competing social forces impacts both the timing (short-term versus long-term struggle) and type (progressive or regressive) of family law after independence. The ability of one of two competing forces, broadly categorized as traditionalist versus modernist, to capture the state is necessary for codification and is predictive of family law content. Case studies reveal that systemic shocks (e.g. revolution, social unrest, or foreign intervention) tip the balance of power in favor of traditional or modernizing forces in the post-independence state-building process and facilitate the successful consolidation of power and the codification of family law.