Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village

Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village

Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village

Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village

Excerpt

A common explanation for the 1979 Iranian Revolution was that “modernization” had proceeded too rapidly, that people had reacted against the changes related to modernization. Of course many Iranians, including religious figures, the conservative bazaris (shopkeepers, owners and wholesalers in the bazar) and the lower classes, did not like aspects of modernization promoted by the central government, such as women’s European-style too-revealing clothing, lack of proper segregation between the sexes and the rule against girls and women wearing scarves or veils in schools and government workplaces. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi seemed more interested in appearances, in a modern-looking style of living, than in real modernization in terms of more egalitarian and collaborative relationships in political process and other areas of life. Many of the Shia clergy did not like their loss of power and the land reform they considered to be against Islamic law and that also made them lose sources of wealth.

I came to a different judgment about the connections between modernization and the Revolution. Modernization led to the Revolution in other, more substantial ways. In the process of fieldwork in a community, while working closely with individuals, it was easy to see how the dynamics of economic and political change were related to people’s decisions to join the revolutionary movement. I found that people were reacting not so much against modernization as against insufficient or uneven modernization. Why should other, richer Iranians have so much more of it than they did? Inequitable modernization kindled resentment.

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