Participant Info

First Name
Jocelyn Sage
Last Name
Northwestern University in Qatar
political economy, authoritarianism, state-society relations, nation-building, Qatar, Persian Gulf, rentierism
Media Contact

Personal Info

About Me

My research agenda explores the interaction between state and society under conditions of rentier (resource-rich) authoritarianism. Specifically, my work challenges the common assumptions of the place of money and the nature of politics in rent-based societies. Rentier states are those that derive most of their wealth from natural resources (as opposed to manufacturing, for example), “renting” these resources to external companies in exchange for cash; oil-rich states of the Gulf region are typical examples. In political science, rentier theory posits a state-society bargain: that state distribution of resource wealth buys political loyalty (or at least acquiescence) among the citizenry. My research challenges the primacy of wealth in the stability of rentier states through in-depth study of Qatar, the world’s richest and smallest rentier regime. I use original, nationally representative surveys and rich stories and context from interviews and Arabic media analysis to examine the relationship of state benefits, economic satisfaction, national identity, and political voice. I demonstrate that the modern rentier state, despite its financial autonomy, is not as exceptional as commonly perceived. Rather, these resource-rich states must interact with and respond to its society just as non-rentier states do in order to maintain their stability. My work provides insight into domestic and international politics of the Persian Gulf, including a better understanding of the state-society relationship in Qatar and the internal dynamics of the 2017 diplomatic crisis.

Recent Publications

2017. Mitchell, Jocelyn Sage. “Why did Qatar just change its residency laws?” Washington Post. August 9.


2016. Gengler, Justin J., and Jocelyn Sage Mitchell. “A Hard Test of Individual Heterogeneity in Response Scale Usage: Evidence from Qatar.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research. doi:10.1093/ijpor/edw025.


2016. Mitchell, Jocelyn Sage, and Leslie A. Pal. “Policy Making in Qatar: The Macro-Policy Framework.” In Policy Making in a Transformative State: The Case of Qatar, M. Evren Tok, Lolwah Alkhater, and Leslie A. Pal (eds.), 65–96. London: Palgrave Macmillan.


2016. Mitchell, Jocelyn Sage. “We’re All Qataris Here: The Nation-Building Narrative of the National Museum of Qatar.” In Representing the Nation: Heritage, Museums, National Narratives, and Identity in the Arab Gulf States, Pamela Erskine-Loftus, Mariam Al-Mulla, and Victoria Hightower (eds.), 59–72. New York: Routledge.


2016. Mitchell, Jocelyn Sage, Sean Foley, Jessie Moritz, and Vânia Carvalho Pinto. “Space: Female Space: Arabian Peninsula.” Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, Suad Joseph (ed.), Supplement 14.


2015. Mitchell, Jocelyn Sage, Christina Paschyn, Sadia Mir, Kirsten Pike, and Tanya Kane. “In majaalis al-hareem: The complex professional and personal choices of Qatari women.” DIFI Family Research and Proceedings 4. doi:10.5339/difi.2015.4.


2014. Mitchell, Jocelyn Sage. “Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Creating Knowledge through Student–Faculty Partnerships.” Journal of General Education: A Curricular Commons of the Humanities and Sciences 63 (2–3): 73–93. doi:10.1353/jge.2014.0013.


Media Coverage

2017. Monocle Radio, The Foreign Desk. London, UK. June 24. Episode 181: “The Gulf—another Cold War?” Oral interview, 13:15–20:12.


2017. Monocle Radio, The Monocle Daily. London, UK. June 23. Episode 1465. Oral interview, 2:52–13:02.


2016. Al Jazeera English, Inside Story. Doha, Qatar. September 27. “Are presidential debates important?” Panelist.


Country Focus
Qatar, Persian Gulf

Research Areas

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