Political Development of Iran
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 31 March 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0035
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 31 March 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0035
Iran’s political development has undergone momentous changes over the past century: the advent of constitutionalism in 1906–1911; the period of absolutist rule and stealth modernization under two Pahlavi monarchs; the brief period of parliamentary democracy under the premiership of Mohammad Mossadeq; the Islamic revolution in 1979 with its attendant conservative, pragmatic, reformist, neoconservative, and neopragmatist incarnations. During each of these periods, Iranian society and politics underwent significant transformations that were often imposed from above. These changes were also compounded by the fact that Iran has historically occupied an important geopolitical position in international politics, a pawn in, and an irritant to, the great powers at the heart of the oil-rich Middle East. The diverse sources compiled below explore different dimensions of Iran’s political development over the past century. All of the sources are in English and most are works by highly respected scholars of Iran both inside and outside of the country.
Many general overviews and historical guides of Iran as a country and as an ancient civilization are available, but not many are solely devoted to the political development of Iran. The following selections showcase the most respected and widely cited works dealing with the political history of Iran. The Cambridge History of Iran series (Avery, et al. 1968–1991) along with Frye 1984 and Katouzian 2009 together offer a highly readable survey of Persian culture and politics across two and a half millennia of history, while Amir Arjomand 1984 elaborates on the intricate linkages between religion and politics in Iran. A good overview of modern political developments in Iran is Keddie 2006, which traces the origins of the 1979 revolution through the complex history of the 19th and 20th centuries in Iran. Lastly, the account in Mottahedeh 1985 of the intricate linkages among religion, tradition, and politics in post-revolutionary Iran is a wonderful narrative of some of the most interesting and vexing dynamics and contradictions in modern Iranian society.
Abrahamian, Ervand. A History of Modern Iran. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
An authoritative overview of Iranian political history and development from the eclipse of the Qajar dynasty to the failure of the reform movement under the Islamic Republic. An especially useful guide to 20th-century Iranian politics and society.
Amir Arjomand, Said. The Shadow of God and the Hidden Imam: Religion, Political Order, and Societal Change in Iran from the Beginning to 1890. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.
Reissued in 2010, this volume offers a comprehensive sociological and historical study of Shiʿism and politics of premodern Iran, with the aim of revealing the ideological foundations of the Islamic Republic.
Ansari, Ali M. Iran: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
In five short chapters, this book offers a succinct overview of Iranian mythology, history, culture, and politics from ancient Persia to today.
Avery, Peter, J. A. Boyle, W. B. Fisher, et al., eds. The Cambridge History of Iran. Vols. 1–7. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1968–1991.
The definitive reference guide to Iran’s history, culture, politics, and economy, from the Medes to the Islamic Republic.
Frye, Richard N. The History of Ancient Iran. Munich: C. H. Beck, 1984.
Spanning a millennium and a half of ancient Persian history, this book offers an excellent introduction to the cultural and political lineages of Iranians.
Katouzian, Homa. The Persians: Ancient, Medieval and Modern Iran. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.
Provides a sweeping narrative account of Iran’s cultural and political development from ancient times to today, from a distinctly Iranian (as opposed to European) perspective.
Keddie, Nikki R. Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.
An authoritative account of 20th-century Iranian politics as it culminated in the Islamic revolution in 1979. Also a great examination of the role of religion in society from the 1800s to today.
Mottahedeh, Roy. The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran. New York: Pantheon, 1985.
An insightful look at the everyday interplay of politics, culture, and religion in Iran, as told through the life of a young cleric.
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.
- Advanced Democracies, Electoral System Reform in
- Advanced Democracies, Public Opinion and Public Policy in
- Advertising and Election Campaigns in the United States
- Africa, Comparative Politics of
- American Indian Politics
- Arab-Israel Conflict, The
- Arendt, Hannah
- Aristotle's Political Thought
- Australia and New Zealand, Comparative Politics of
- Authoritarianism in Russia
- Bicameralism in Stable Democracies
- Biopolitics and State Regulation of Human Life
- Brazilian Political Development
- Business-State Relations in Europe
- Canadian Foreign Policy
- Candidate Emergence and Recruitment
- Channels of Electoral Representation in Advanced Industria...
- China's One-Child Policy
- China-Taiwan Relations
- Chinese Communist Party
- Chinese Nationalism
- Civil Society in South Asia
- Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Civil-Military Relations in Asia
- Civil-Military Relations in Latin America
- Class in American Politics
- Comparative Capitalism Theory
- Comparative Industrial Relations in Europe
- Comparative Politics of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bis...
- Comparative Politics of Chile and Uruguay
- Comparative Politics of Federalism
- Comparative Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
- Congress, Defense, and Foreign Policy
- Congressional Reassertion of Authority
- Conservative Litigation Strategies and Groups in US Judici...
- Corruption in China
- Cosmopolitan Political Thought
- Crisis of European Integration in Historical Perspective, ...
- Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School
- Cuban Political Development
- Cycles of Protest
- Democracy and Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Democracy and Dictatorship in Central Asia
- Democracy in Latin America
- Democratic Citizenship
- Democratic Peace Theory
- Democratic Theory
- Democratization in Africa
- Democratization in Central America
- Democratization in Mexico
- Development of Survey Research
- Direct Democracy in the United States
- East Africa, Politics of
- Economic Voting
- Election Forecasting
- Election Laws in Democracies
- Electoral and Party System Development in Sub-Saharan Afri...
- Electoral Change in Latin America
- Emotion and Racial Attitudes in Contemporary American Poli...
- Environmental Governance
- Environmental Politics among Advanced Industrial Democraci...
- Ethnic Diasporas and US Foreign Policy
- Ethnic Politics
- Eurasia, Comparative Politics of
- European Social Democracy
- European Union, Politics of the
- Failed and Weak States in Theory and Practice
- Far-Right Parties in Europe
- Federalism in the United States
- Field Experiments
- Filibuster, The
- Gender and Electoral Politics in the United States
- Gender and International Relations
- Gender, Behavior, and Representation
- Global Inequality
- Globalization and the Welfare State
- Globalization, Health Crises, and Health Care
- Governance in Africa
- Governmental Responses to Political Corruption
- Gridlock and Divided Government in the U.S.
- Historiography of Twentieth-Century American Conservatism,...
- Hobbes’s Political Thought
- Hume’s Political Thought
- Hybrid Regimes
- Identity and Political Behavior
- Immigrant Incorporation in Canada
- Immigrant Incorporation in Western Europe
- Immigration and International Relations
- Impact of Campaign Contributions on Congressional Behavior...
- Implicit Attitudes in Public Opinion
- Income Dynamics and Politics in North America and Europe
- Income Inequality and Advanced Democracies
- Income Inequality in the United States, The Politics of
- Indian Democracy
- Indigenous Rights and Governance in Canada, Australia, and...
- Informal Practices of Accountability in Urban Africa
- Institutional Change in Advanced Democracies
- Intellectual Property in International Relations
- Interest Groups and Inequality in the United States
- Interest Groups in American Politics
- International Conflict Management
- International Criminal Justice
- International Law
- International NGOs
- International Political Economy of Illegal Drugs
- Internet and Politics, The
- Iran, Political Development of
- Israeli Politics
- Judicial Supremacy and National Judicial Review
- Judiciaries and Politics in East Asia
- Kant's Political Thought
- Labor Politics in East Asia
- Land Reform in Latin America
- Latin America, Democratic Transitions in
- Latin America, Environmental Policy and Politics in
- Latin America, Guerrilla Insurgencies in
- Latin America, Social Movements in
- Legal Mobilization
- LGBT Politics in the United States
- Liberal Pluralism
- Local Governments in the United States
- Machiavelli’s Political Thought
- Marx's Political Thought
- Mass Incarceration and US Politics
- Mechanisms of Representation
- Media Effects in Politics
- Media Politics in South Asia
- Minority Political Engagement and Representation in the Un...
- Modern Dynastic Rule
- Modern Elections and Voting Behavior in Europe
- National Interbranch Politics in the United States
- NATO, Politics of
- Neoclassical Realism
- New Institutionalism Revisited, The
- North America, Comparative Politics of
- Oil, Politics of
- Origins and Impact of Proportional Representation, The
- Outcomes of Social Movements and Protest Activities
- Partisan and Nonpartisan Theories of Organization in the U...
- Partisan Polarization in the US Congress
- Partisan Polarization in the US Electorate
- Party Networks
- Peace Operations
- Personality and Politics
- Plato's Political Thought
- Policy Responsiveness to Public Opinion
- Political Economy of Financial Regulation in Advanced Ind...
- Political Economy of Taxation, The
- Political Geography in American Politics
- Political Obligation
- Political Parties and Electoral Politics of Japan
- Political Thought, Hegel's
- Political Thought of the American Founders, The
- Politics and Policy in Contemporary Argentina
- Politics of Anti-Americanism
- Politics of Class Formation
- Politics of Disaster Prevention and Management
- Politics of Financial Crises
- Politics of Foreign Direct Investment in South Asia
- Politics of Higher Education in the U.S.
- Politics of Internal Conquest in the United States and Can...
- Politics of Japan
- Politics of Natural Disasters, The
- Politics of North Korea
- Politics of Science and Technology
- Politics of South Africa
- Politics of Southern Africa
- Postcolonialism and International Relations
- Post-Communist Democratization
- Preferential Trade Agreements, Politics of
- Presidential Persuasion and Public Opinion
- Presidential Primaries and Caucuses
- Private Governance
- Public Opinion in Advanced Industrial Democracies
- Public Opinion in New Democracies and Developing Nations
- Qualitative Methods, The Renewal of
- Race in American Political Thought
- Racial and Ethnic Descriptive Representation in the United...
- Regime Transitions and Variation in Post-Communist Europe
- Regional Integration in Latin America
- Regional Security
- Regulating Food Production
- Religion in American Political Thought
- Religion in Contemporary Political Thought
- Religion, Politics, and Civic Engagement in the United Sta...
- Rousseau's Political Thought
- Rule of Law
- Russia and the West
- Science and Democracy
- Social Policy and Immigrant Integration
- South Korea, Politics of
- Spectacle, The
- State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa
- State Formation
- State, The Nature of the
- Supreme Court of the United States, The
- Systemic Theories of International Politics
- Taiwan, Politics of
- Tea Party, The
- The New Right in American Political Thought
- Transitional Justice
- Turkey, Political Development of
- US Military Bases Abroad
- US Presidency, The
- Voter Turnout
- Welfare State Development
- Welfare State Development in Latin America
- Welfare State Development in Western Europe
- West Africa, Politics of
- Worker Politics in China
- Youth and Generational Differences in US Politics