Ideology and the Iranian Revolution

39 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2012 Last revised: 28 May 2012

See all articles by Mehdi Shadmehr

Mehdi Shadmehr

University of Chicago Harris School; University of Calgary - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 27, 2012


Some theories deny the role of ideology in the making of revolutions, while others grant it an indispensable role. I investigate the role of ideology in the Iranian Revolution by contrasting the two periods of the Pahlavi regime that witnessed popular uprising: the early 1960s and the late 1970s. While the former uprising fizzled, the latter led to the Iranian Revolution. Applying the comparative method, I show that structural and non-agency process factors underwent the same changes in both periods and hence fail to explain the variation in outcomes. I propose instead that the change in the opposition's ideology accounts for this variation. I show that Khomeini's doctrine of the Islamic state provided a new alternative to the status quo that changed the Islamic opposition's goal from reforming the existing state to creating a new, Islamic state.

Keywords: Ideology, Islamic Political Thought, Revolutions, Social Movements, Iranian Revolution, Khomeini, Islamic State, The Guardianship of the Jurist, Qualitative Methods, Comparative Method, Necessary and Sufficient Conditions

Suggested Citation

Shadmehr, Mehdi, Ideology and the Iranian Revolution (January 27, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Mehdi Shadmehr (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Harris School ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

University of Calgary - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
2500 University Drive N.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4


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