Iran Encountering Globalization: Problems and Prospects

Iran Encountering Globalization: Problems and Prospects

Iran Encountering Globalization: Problems and Prospects

Iran Encountering Globalization: Problems and Prospects

Synopsis

This work examines the current state of Iran, looking at a wide range of areas including the economy, finance, politics, the media, the position of women and migration. The book discusses the uneasy balance between the theocratic conservatism, modernization and globalization.

Excerpt

The question of Iran’s relation to globalization has two sides, both of them addressed in this important and perceptive book, a collection all the more interesting for the range of topics it covers and the very strong representation within it of Iranian writers. One aspect of Iran’s relation to globalization is obvious enough: the ability of Iran to respond to the changes in the world economy, and in world politics and culture, that are subsumed in the broad term ‘globalization’. As a country of 70 million people, with a history of three thousand years of statehood, substantial oil and gas resources, and a rich and influential culture, Iran faces a range of options, as well as pressures, within this international context. But the issue of globalization is not a one-way street: if globalization poses options, and some challenges, for Iran, the case of Iran also poses challenges for globalization, both in the sense of our understanding of, and debate about, globalization, and also in terms of where the world goes in the next decades. Iran, emerging from two decades of post-revolutionary transformation, is in a position to make its own contribution to the changing world, both in terms of its championing of an anti-hegemonic agenda in the world, and as an influential, and distinctive, participant in the politics and culture of the Islamic world. This contribution is all the more significant because, as the contributors to this volume make clear, there is no single Iranian voice on these issues: the debate, and at times conflict, now taking place in Iran concern both the future of Iranian society and politics and Iran’s relation to the outside world. Our understanding of both of these themes is enriched by a reading of this book.

The challenges which Iran faces in regard to globalization are evident enough, and, in large measure, by no means specific to it. First, economics. Iran is a country whose economy has long relied on the oil sector, for most of its state revenue and for over 90 per cent of its export revenues. The problems this poses to Iran, as a ‘rentier’ or ‘distributive’ state, have been present since the 1960s and have survived the fall of the Shah in 1979 and the post-revolutionary transformations. Yet the problems of this reliance on oil have been accentuated by the doubling of population since 1979 and by the inefficiencies which the Islamic Republic, like the monarchy, has incorporated into the distribution process. At the same time oil has, quite simply, bought time: Iran has not had to engage in the drastic transformation of its economy, manufacturing sector and, above all, educational system which . . .

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