The alliance of social forces in the Iranian revolution

Kamal Youseffi, Fordham University


This study analyzes the unity and alliance of the various political and social groups which formed the opposition to the Pahlavi regime. I believe that Shiite Islam was used only as a means to organize and mobilize the population who had economic and political needs and aspirations. The conflict between the government and various groups contending for political power is central in explaining the revolution. According to Charles Tilly and Anthony Oberschall, "resources" and mobilization are crucial to understanding this approach. This study uses a resource mobilization approach to analyze the revolution in Iran by placing emphasis on the build-up of frustrations, tensions or grievances for various reasons. Various people have been exposed to serious economic and/or political deprivation for some period of time. The experience of such feelings led to the accumulation of frustration, tension, grievances, or anger on the part of the deprived. The initial impetus to collective action led to mobilization of these hostilities. I believe that Shiite political culture and effective use of symbolic language was used to mobilize the dissenters into a political unit. The opposition to the regime, toward the end, were religious leaders. Their followers, political activists, intellectuals, students, and newly urbanized masses who were forced to migrate to cities as a result of land reform acts. As the struggle reached its peak, religious leaders were able, by using the numerous religious gathering places, to incorporate government workers, Bazzaris and shopkeepers to their cause. Through mass demonstrations for religious reasons and use of symbolic language, religious leaders were able to convey their revolutionary message and gradually place themselves in the position of leadership.

Subject Area

Middle Eastern history|History|Political science

Recommended Citation

Youseffi, Kamal, "The alliance of social forces in the Iranian revolution" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8818484.