Corruption, Trust, Inclusion and Cohesion in North Africa and the Middle East

Roger Sapsford* (Corresponding Author), Gerasimos Tsourapas, Pamela Abbott, Andrea Teti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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Corruption provokes much anger in the Middle East and North African (MENA) and was important in the Arab Uprisings; it was government corruption that sparked the greatest anger among the population. The argument of this Report is (a) that corruption is a major and obvious breach of trust, (b) that the same is true for ‘civil’ corruption – ‘wasta’ in employment, business corruption – (c) that as well as not trusting their government and its institutions, MENA residents do not trust each other either, to the detriment of maintaining functional nation states without coercion, and (d) that corruption is a special case of breach of the Rule of Law which is essential for a decent society. The initial focus on corruption leads to consideration of what people think they can reasonably expect from government and from each other. Ultimately, corruption divides the society into those who extort bribes or dispense favours and those who are required to pay bribes and are excluded from favour – in other words, there is a breakdown of social inclusion. Further, it destroys trust between people and trust in social institutions, which breaks the cords that hold modern societies together - it is an attack on social cohesion. The article is based mainly on the Arab Transformations Survey, carried out in six developing MENA countries in 2014, three years after the ‘Arab Spring’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalApplied Research in Quality of Life
Issue number1
Early online date26 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

This article is based mainly on a survey funded by the European Union under the FP7 framework, Grant No. 320214. An earlier version appeared as one of Aberdeen University’s Arab Transformations Working Papers (Sapsford et al. 2016). We are grateful to Viola Sanelli and Ilia Xypolia, at the University of Aberdeen, for material they supplied on the history and politics of the region.

The authors alone remain responsible for the content of the article. It does not necessarily represent the views of the EU, the Court of the University of Aberdeen or any of the ArabTrans project partners.


  • corruption
  • trust
  • rule of law
  • social inclusion
  • social cohesion
  • MENA


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