The Social Bases and the Discursive Context of the Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism: The Cases of Iran and Syria

Publication Abstract

Moaddel M. 1996. "The Social Bases and the Discursive Context of the Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism: The Cases of Iran and Syria." Sociological Inquiry August: 330-55.

This article focuses on the socioeconomic and political context of the 1950s and 1960s to explain the rise of fundamentalism in Iran and Syria. I argue that Islamic fundamentalism in these countries gained support from certain traditional property-owning classes who were antagonized by the state economic policies and bureaucratic expansion and by the state's effective suppression of the ideological and political pluralism of the earlier period. The state's repressive policies channeled oppositional politics through the medium of religion. I further argue that the more immediate determinant of Islamic fundamentalism was the state's ideology and its intervention in culture production. The state shaped the identity of the opposition and structured the kind of argument the opposition formulated against it. On the basis of the empirical cases of Iran and Syria, I argue that conceptualizing ideology as a discourse resolves some of the difficulties involved in the subjective/psychological conception of ideology in the analysis, assessment, and understanding of the way ideology is produced and its role in social process, particularly when only historical materials are available. I also argue for treating ideology as an autonomous category with a dynamic of its own. Finally, I suggest a model of ideological production.

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