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Citizens, Society, and The State ................................ ................................ ........................ 4

Four Major Eras ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 5

Public Policy ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 6



I. Introduction

II. Citizens, Society, and The State

A. Political Liberalization

B. Media

C. Rights

III. Four Major Eras

IV. Public Policy

V. Conclusion


sofi Lengyel

Jessica Hale

AP Comparative Government

26 January 2011


Iran is a country that stands out among the other main countries studied in the AP

Comparative Government curriculum. Currently, Iran has a government strictly ruled by

religion; therefore, it is a theocracy. The state demonstrates unique characteristics in several

different areas, such as its citizens, society, political and economical changes, and public



Three aspects of Iran, its citizens, society, and the state itself are strictly influenced by

religion. There are several cleavages present in Iran. The most fundamental cleavage is

between different religions. xf all Iranians, 90% is Shia, while only 10% is Sunni, and 1% is

other religions, such as Christians. Though the Constitution protects basic religious rights for

all people, in reality, those people that are not Shia Muslims are often oppressed. In fact, the

Sunnis are not even mentioned in the Constitution.Stemming from this problem, there are

cleavages between different ethnicities, as well as between social classes. There are

differences among people¶s opinions regarding whether the state should remain a theocracy

or whether it should switch to a democracy; this creates serious conflict (Crane). Even among

the ruling clerics there is much discontent, as they have opposing opinions regarding whether

the state should lean towards a more liberal economy, or whether it should focus on

providing more social justices (Wood 239). Another problem in Iran is its civil society.

During the presidency of Muhammad Khatami, political liberalization was encouraged. Iran


went through several changes, such as opening he economy to a greater extent, allowing for a

looser freedom of speech and press, and improving relations with international agents.

However, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected, civil society had to face oppression

again. An example of civil society today in Iran is the interest group called Worker¶s House.

This is a group to help factory workers. However, there aren¶t many interest groups in Iran as

the government controls around 65% to 80% of the economy (Wood 240-241). Media in Iran

is highly restricted, and thus it mainly has roles imposed on it by the government. The

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting runs television and radio broadcasting (Metz). When

considering political participation in Iran, two important forms of participation are voting and

protesting. Throughout the history of Iran, there have been many demonstrations as a

response to the oppressive government. Worker¶s who are unsatisfied with working

conditions, reformers, and those that disagree with the status of women in Iran have been

equally active in protests (Metz). Social movements have also been active in Iran. The

Cultural Revolution was one major movement that encouraged teachers to educate students

about Islamic values. Most commonly, social movements touch on the subject of human

rights; international agents are especially critical about the state of human rights in Iran.

Lastly, regarding the citizens and society in Iran, most Iranians value citizenship and there is

a strong sense of nationalism in the country, which is mainly due to Shiism (Wood 236-238).


Throughout the history of Iran, there have been four major eras. The Safavids

converted most people to Shiism, but they also tolerated the |    , which were

monotheists who dedicated their lives to a holy book. Their source of legitimacy was their

claim to be descendants of the Twelve Imams. The Quajars took over later in history, and

they made Shiism the official state religion. They didn¶t have the legitimacy that the Safavids

had, and so there was a rift between the government and religion. During their rule, the


Constitutional Revolution of 1905 to 1909 happened. This led to the formation of the

Guardian Council and the Majles. The next rulers were the Pahlavis. They came to power

through the coup d¶état of 1921 and authoritarian rule was established. Iran became a rentier

state by ³renting out´ oil, and thus the economy experienced significant development. The

White Revolution soon took place, which resulted in a greater secularization of Iran and in

land reforms. In 1979, the Islamic Revolution occurred which ultimately resulted in the

establishment of the theocratic government. Two factors, the revolution of rising expectation

concept and pressures from the U.S. sparked the revolution (Wood 232-238). Another

significant event in political history was the Iraq-Iran War in 1980 to 1988 (Pike).

Economically, changes occurred mostly due to the changes in politics. The discovery of oil

was an immense boost for the economy, yet it is also a cause of many problems, as Iran is

now too dependent on oil. Problems such as brain drain, wars, lack of resources, and the

environment largely hinders the economy if Iran. Two important parts of the economy are the

informal economy and the religious endowments, which are conglomerates.


Public policy has several different issues, as policymaking is very complex in Iran.

The two main institutions responsible for policymaking are the Guardian Coucil and the

Majles. The main problems stem from he conflict between moderate reformers and the

conservative clergy. Health care issues are common, despite the efforts to improve the health

care system. xne of the most controversial issues is the problem of human rights.

International influences especially criticize the state of human rights in Iran, as cruel

punishments, such as the death penalty and torture are still present there. The rights of

women are also frequently debated, as women do not possess equal rights to men. The policy

regarding women in Iran is called ³equality-with-difference´; this policy clearly favors

males. xther issues include the ³brain drain´ and environmental problems such as


deforestation. Several factors influence public policy in Iran, including the economy, the

rulers, religion, and the public (Wood 251-255).

Thus, Iran is a complex country with many unique characteristics that distinguishes it

from the other core countries and makes it an interesting country to study.


ËIt was a tough decision to outlay the extra cash, which cannot be recovered from insurance,

but with deteriorating prospects of a flight home any time soon and the cost of hotels in

France, we are just relieved to be home having a nice cuppa.ËThe taxi driver, Matt, has still

got to get back and explain to his wife, as the fare was originally only to Geneva

Airport.Ë1745 The disruption means many world leaders remain unsure about whether they

will be at Sunday's funeral of President Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash last week.



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