Established in 1985 in Lebanon, Hezbollah (alternative spellings: Hizballah or Hizbullah) is a political party run by Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, which leads an armed resistance against Israel, and manages a large network of organizations providing an array of social services to Shiʿite groups. Closely affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and with strong ties to Syria, Hezbollah joined the Lebanese parliament in 1992, and became part of the Lebanese government in 2005. Despite being globally defamed as a terrorist organization, and perhaps losing its clout in parts of the Arab world, Hezbollah’s military, political, and social roles are still significant. A wide literature tackles Hezbollah. The party’s cadres and sympathizers publish about it (often in Arabic), reproducing its discourse. International think tanks regularly publish reports about Hezbollah’s actions and their impacts. Two main strands dominate scholarly works. One depicts it as terrorist organization, focusing on its fundamentalist ideology, propagandist media, and military actions. This strand often lacks context and simplifies the actual situation. The other strand, more critical, analyzes Hezbollah as a political party and a social movement, unpacking its organizational structure and its religious ideals, showing their complexity and contradictions. This strand places Hezbollah in the historical context of the Shiʿite social and political struggle, and includes analysis examining Hezbollah’s relation to Iran, Syria, Israel, and the West. Some of it also situates the party’s actions in relation to political Islam and post-Islamism and relates to the failure of the welfare state, as well as the increasingly pragmatic role of Islamist groups in the Middle East. Moreover, works have examined Hezbollah’s relations to the Lebanese political system, arguing how it is “a state within a state,” (or a “nonstate”), but also how it has become “Lebanonized.” A number of studies shed light on the party’s organizational structure and its network of institutions, shedding light on the multiple dimensions of its social welfare and on its urban governance policies. Some analysts have also worked on Hezbollah’s multiple tactics during wars and conflicts, and on the construction of its image in diverse media. Others have investigated the party’s constituency, either underscoring its domination by Hezbollah or how issues of gender, class, age, morality, and urban geography variably affect its practices of piety, and its belonging to the Islamic milieu.
Overviews of Hezbollah will widely differ depending on the author. Norton 2014 is one of the most comprehensive and objective books that one must begin with, as it debunks the dominant narrative about Hezbollah being a terrorist organization that should be eradicated, and reveals how it is embedded in the social, political, and economic fabric and supported by large numbers of people who are not to be dismissed as fanatic and brainwashed. It can be complemented with Azani 2011 to get an idea about the terrorist argument and the stereotypes that dominate studies on Hezbollah. The rest of the list provides essential references that highlight different dimensions that make up the party. Saad-Ghorayeb 2002 investigates Hezbollah’s religious and political ideology and the concept of velayat-e faqih (the government of the jurisprudent), as well as Hezbollah’s changing relations to Iran and Syria. Harik 2004 offers one of the first insider’s views into the party’s organizations, revealing how it evolved over time to deploy an array of strategies to integrate and adapt with a changing geopolitical system. Hamzeh 2004 unpacks Hezbollah’s ideology and showcases qualitatively and quantitatively its ability to maneuver the Lebanese political system. Alagha 2006 is a key reference analyzing the shifting political and religious ideology of Hezbollah. For those who read French, Harb 2010 will provide a useful meta-analysis of the party’s social and urban service provision network, as well as the governance features that explain the durability and effectiveness of its collective action and social mobilization. Also for the French readers, Mervin 2008 is a precious and very accessible edited volume published after the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon; it synthesizes the numerous dimensions of Hezbollah’s political and social action, and provides useful definitions and references of the key concepts related to Shiʿism. In addition, readers may find a lot of background material that provides information about the party’s organizations, narratives, official statements and speeches, and so on, of which a short selection is presented here.
Alagha, Joseph. The Shifts in Hizballah Ideology: Religious Ideology, Political Ideolgy and Political Program. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006.
Relying on unpublished sources, and firsthand encounters with Hezbollah’s cadres, this book examines the transformation of Hezbollah into a pragmatic political party. Useful appendices, including Hezbollah’s statements, parliamentary elections programs, and 2004 municipal elections program.
Azani, Eitan. Hezbollah: The Story of the Party of God; From Revolution to Institutionalization. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
An account of Hezbollah by an Israeli policy analyst who argues that, despite its pragmatic transformation, the party still maintains its revolutionary goals associated with Iran. A good example of the terrorist perception of the party.
Hamzeh, Ahmad N. In the Path of Hizbullah. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2004.
Presents one of the first analysis of the organizational structure and functions of the party, based on firsthand accounts with party members, and thorough accounts of Islamic theology, history, and the group’s ideologues’ writings. Also includes valuable tables and figures, providing quantitative and qualitative data on the participation of Hezbollah in Lebanese local and national politics.
Harb, Mona. Le Hezbollah à Beyrouth (1985–2005). De la banlieue à la ville. Paris: Karthala, 2010.
Provides a rare meta-analysis of the organizational networks, urban politics, and governance of Hezbollah, focusing on its provision of social and urban services in Dahiya (south Beirut). Argues that the success and durability of Hezbollah is associated with its embeddedness in the social and territorial fabric of the city. Parts of the author’s findings have been translated into English in AlSayyad and Massoumi’s The Fundamentalist City (2010).
Harik, Judith Palmer. Hezbollah: The Changing Face of Terrorism. London: I. B. Tauris, 2004.
Examines the transformation of Hezbollah from an underground, radical militia to a mainstream political party, unraveling the multiple tactics used to integrate it with Lebanese plural society, from political networking with Christian groups to employment and service provision for Shiʿi groups. Provides also a fascinating analysis of the military strategies of the party before and after the “security zone,” particularly its guerrilla warfare in the age of multimedia communication.
Mervin, Sabrina, ed. Le Hezbollah: État des Lieux. Paris: Sindbad, 2008.
This edited interdisciplinary volume by an eminent historian of Shiʿism compiles entries by key authors on Hezbollah (including several she authored) that showcase the complex diversity of the political party in the aftermath of the 2006 war. The book also includes a useful chronology of events, and a valuable glossary of key terms pertaining to Shiʿi religion.
Norton, Augustus Richard. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014.
Argues against the simplistic reading of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization to be destroyed, and demonstrates how Hezbollah maintains its popularity in the Middle East by providing a thorough historical, political, and social analysis of the party. A concise, rigorous, and essential read.
Saad-Ghorayeb, Amal. Hizbu’llah: Politics and Religion. London: Pluto, 2002.
Elucidates the concept of velayat-e faqih (Guardianship of the Jurisprudent, sometimes given as wilayat al-faqih)—the cornerstone of Hezbollah’s political and religious ideology. Using direct interviews with party members, the author also examines the party’s evolving place within the Lebanese political system, as well as its position vis-à-vis anti-Westernism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Judaism, providing detailed original findings.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Academic Theories of International Relations Since 1945
- Arab-Israeli Wars, 1967-1973, The
- Arab-Israeli Wars, The
- Arms Control
- Arms Races
- Arms Trade
- Asylum Policies
- Authoritarian Regimes
- Balance of Power Theory
- Bargaining Theory of War
- Challenge of Communism, The
- China and Japan
- China's Defense Policy
- China's Foreign Policy
- Civil Resistance
- Civil Society in the European Union
- Cold War, The
- Conflict Behavior and the Prevention of War
- Conflict Management
- Countermeasures in International Law
- Criminal Law, International
- Critical Theory of International Relations
- Cuban Missile Crisis, The
- Cultural Diplomacy
- Cyber Security
- Cyber Warfare
- Demobilization, Post World War I
- Democracies and World Order
- Democracy and Conflict
- Democracy in World Politics
- Deterrence Theory
- Diplomacy, History of
- Diplomacy, Public
- Disaster Diplomacy
- Drone Warfare
- Eastern Front (World War I)
- Economics, International
- Embedded Liberalism
- Emerging Powers and BRICS
- Empirical Testing of Formal Models
- Energy and International Security
- Epidemic Diseases and their Effects on History
- Ethics and Morality in International Relations
- Ethnicity in International Relations
- European Migration Policy
- European Security and Defense Policy, The
- European Union as an International Actor
- European Union, International Relations of the
- Fascism, The Challenge of
- Feminist Security Studies
- Food Security
- Forecasting in International Relations
- Foreign Policy, Theories of
- French Empire, 20th-Century
- From Club to Network Diplomacy
- Future of NATO
- Game Theory and Interstate Conflict
- Gender and Terrorism
- Genocide, Politicide, and Mass Atrocities Against Civilian...
- Genocides, 20th Century
- Geopolitics and Geostrategy
- Germany in World War II
- Global Citizenship
- Global Civil Society
- Global Constitutionalism
- Global Environmental Politics
- Global Ethic of Care
- Global Governance
- Global Justice, Western Perspectives
- Grand Strategy
- Greater Middle East, The
- Hague Conferences (1899, 1907)
- History and International Relations
- Human Rights
- Human Rights and Humanitarian Diplomacy
- Human Rights Law
- Intelligence Oversight
- Internal Displacement
- International Conflict Settlements, The Durability of
- International Criminal Court, The
- International Economic Organizations (IMF and World Bank)
- International Health Governance
- International Justice, Theories of
- International Law
- International Monetary Relations, History of
- International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
- International Nongovernmental Organizations
- International Organizations
- International Relations as a Social Science
- International Relations Theory
- International Security
- International Society
- International Society, Theorizing
- International Support For Nonstate Armed Groups
- Internet Law
- Interstate Cooperation Theory and International Institutio...
- Intervention and Use of Force
- Iran, Politics and Foreign Policy
- Iraq: Past and Present
- Just War Theory
- Kurdistan and Kurdish Politics
- Law of the Sea
- Laws of War
- Leadership in International Affairs
- League of Nations
- Lean Forward and Pull Back Options for US Grand Strategy
- Mediation and Civil Wars
- Mediation in International Conflicts
- Mediation via International Organizations
- Middle East, The Contemporary
- Military Science
- Minority Rights
- Multilateralism (1992–), Return to
- National Liberation, International Law and Wars of
- National Security Act of 1947, The
- Nations and Nationalism
- NATO, Europe, and Russia: Security Issues and the Border R...
- New Multilateralism in the Early 21st Century
- Nonproliferation and Counterproliferation
- Nonviolent Resistance Datasets
- Peace of Utrecht
- Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict
- Political Demography
- Political Economy of National Security
- Political Learning and Socialization
- Political Psychology
- Politics and Islam in Turkey
- Popular Culture and International Relations
- Post-Civil War State
- Post-Conflict and Transitional Justice
- Power Transition Theory
- Preventive War and Preemption
- Prisoners, Treatment of
- Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs)
- Pro-Government Militias
- Prospect Theory in International Relations
- Public Opinion and the European Union
- Quantum Social Science
- Race and International Relations
- Religion and International Relations
- Religiously Motivated Violence
- Reputation in International Relations
- Responsibility to Protect
- Rising Powers in World Politics
- Russian Revolutions and Civil War, 1917-1921
- Sanctions in International Law
- Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), The
- Shining Path
- Social Scientific Theories of Imperialism
- Soviet Union in World War II
- Space Strategy, Policy, and Power
- Spatial Dependencies and International Mediation
- State Theory in International Relations
- Strategic Air Power
- Strategic and Net Assessments
- Sustainable Development
- Teaching International Relations
- Territorial Disputes
- Terrorist Financing
- Terrorist Group Strategies
- The Changing Nature of Diplomacy
- The Queer in/of International Relations
- Theories of International Relations, Feminist
- Theory, Chinese International Relations
- Trade Law
- Transnational Actors
- Transnational Social Movements
- Trust and International Relations
- UN Security Council
- United Nations, The
- US and Africa
- US–UK Special Relationship
- Vienna Conventions on Diplomacy and Consular Relations
- Voluntary International Migration
- War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714)
- Western Balkans
- Western Front (World War I)
- Westphalia, Peace of (1648)
- Women and Peacemaking Peacekeeping
- World Economy 1919-1939
- World Polity School
- World War II Diplomacy and Political Relations