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Secularization of Iran: A Doomed Failure?

The New Middle Class and the Making of Modern Iran by Azadeh Kian-Thiebaut

This book, which is based on primary and secondary sources as well as fieldwork and interviews, highlights the ongoing contribution of the new middle class in the making of modern Iran. It studies the main causes of their discontent with secular modernizing regimes and the reasons for the failure of secular politics under the Pahlavis, and discusses the revival of secular ideas and politics in post-revolutionary Iran. Despite the contribution of the secular new middle class in introducing modern ideas and demands, and their salient role in opposition politics throughout twentieth-century Iran, they failed to gain leadership of the 1979 revolution. As a result, secular ideologies were defeated by a modernized and radicalized Shi'ite doctrine.

The book examines significant social, cultural and political outcomes of the revolution, arguing that the failure of political Islam to respond to societal demands has led to the revitalization of debates on Western modernity. The growing support in civil society for these intellectual endeavors, which attempt to secularize Islam and reconcile it with democracy, shows that the failure of secularism was the outcome of temporary circumstances.

Secularization of Iran: A Doomed Failure?
The New Middle Class and the Making of Modern Iran
Azadeh Kian-Thiebaut
Diffusion Peeters, Paris 1998
ISBN: 90-429-0032-6

Available at Peeters Publishing

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