Evolving Iran

An Introduction to Politics and Problems in the Islamic Republic

Barbara Ann Rieffer-Flanagan

"A detailed, thoughtful, and thorough scrutiny of politics in Iran."
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Evolving Iran presents an overview of how the politics and policy decisions in the Islamic Republic of Iran have developed since the 1979 revolution and how they are likely to evolve in the near future. Despite the fact that the revolution ushered in a theocracy, its political system has largely tended to prioritize self-interest and pragmatism over theology and religious values, while continuing to reinvent itself in the face of internal and international threats.

The author also examines the prospects for democratization in Iran. Since the early years of the twentieth century, Iranians have attempted to make their political system more democratic, yet various attempts to produce a system where citizens have a meaningful voice in political decisions have failed. This book argues that greater democratization is unlikely to occur in the short term, especially in light of increased threats from the international community.

This accessible overview of Iran’s political system covers a broad array of subjects, including foreign policy, human rights, women’s struggle for equality, the development and evolution of elections, and the institutions of the political system including the Revolutionary Guards and Assembly of Experts. It will appeal to undergraduates and the general public who seek to understand a country and regime that has mystified Westerners for decades.

Table of Contents



1. Introduction: The Incomplete Revolution

Part I: The Past
2. Pahlavi Power and the Alienation of the Masses
3. The Islamic Revolution and the Birth of a New Political System

Part II: The Present Political Regime
4. Elections in Iran: Predicting Iranian Politics
5. Pressuring the Islamic Republic to Promote Human Rights
6. Assessing Iranian Foreign Policy since the Revolution: Islamic Realpolitik
7. Economic Policies in the Midst of Ideological Infighting

Part III: The Future
8. Conclusion: Emancipating Iranian Politics




"A timely volume on the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution. . . . This book should be of interest to those who also wish to reexamine the United States in the mirror of change, wondering (and pondering) how much was misplaced between the two countries in these lost decades."—Political Science Quarterly

"A detailed, thoughtful, and thorough scrutiny of politics in Iran."—Midwest Book Review

"Evolving Iran provides an innovatively organized, conceptually rich, and methodologically sound analysis to show how and why political decisions are taken in Iran. It is an immensely vigorous and engaging contribution to the growing literature on grappling with the Islamic Republic of Iran and its highly complex and evolving politics since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. This thought-provoking book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding what goes on inside the Islamic Republic of Iran."—Mahmood Monshipouri, associate professor, Department of International Relations, San Francisco State University

"In this thoughtful and balanced book, Barbara Rieffer-Flanagan provides the reader with a comprehensive analysis of the post-revolutionary Iranian state, society, economy, and polity. As a well-researched scholarly work that encompasses both the domestic politics and the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic, it serves as a corrective to the main stream media’s often superficial and sensationalist accounts of Iran. While the analysis is solid, the prose is accessible and free of cumbersome jargon. As such, the book should be appealing to a large audience. Students and scholars of the Middle East would find much food for thought in this volume. It is a welcome contribution to the plethora of literature on Iranian politics."—Manochehr Dorraj, Texas Christian University

"This is a well researched, carefully considered overview of Iran since the Islamic revolution that ousted the Shah. Focused on the interplay of politics and religion, it is unusually comprehensive. It is also eminently timely, given much talk about Iran and nuclear proliferation. Those advocating military action against the regime of the clerics would be well advised to read this book."—David P. Forsythe, Charles J. Mach Professor of Political Science Emeritus, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Barbara Ann Rieffer-Flanagan is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Central Washington University.

272 pp., 6 x 9
1 figure, 1 table
Mar 2013

272 pp., 6 x 9
1 figure, 1 table
ISBN: 978-1-58901-978-2
Mar 2013

272 pp.
1 figure, 1 table
ISBN: 978-1-58901-979-9
Mar 2013

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