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Title: An Institutional History of the Iranian Construction Jihad: From Inception to Institutionalization (1979-2011)
Authors: Lob, Eric Sander
Advisors: Kunkler, Mirjam
Contributors: Near Eastern Studies Department
Keywords: Contentious Politics
Rural Development
Subjects: Near Eastern studies
Middle Eastern studies
Political Science
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Based on one year of interviews, participant-observation, and archival research in Iran and Lebanon, this dissertation addresses the following question: how did the Islamic Republic of Iran instrumentalize rural development to consolidate power at home and to project influence abroad? This dissertation is the first to trace the institutional history of the Iranian Construction Jihad (jehād-e sāzandegī) (JS), a post-revolutionary rural development organization, through the lens of revolutions, social movements, bureaucracies, transnationalism, and associational life. In its initial phase, JS constituted a counter-movement that assisted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republican Party (IRP) with consolidating power against competing social movements and invading Iraqi forces along the country's rural periphery. JS blurred the distinction between state-society relations as newly-ascendant post-revolutionary elites from above (i.e., Khomeini and the IRP) appropriated a social movement organization (i.e., JS) and harnessed grassroots mobilization from below by leveraging mobilizing structures, political opportunities, and cultural framing. To help Khomeini and the IRP to consolidate power, JS relied on largely non-coercive action repertoire, which it often adopted from its rivals. This repertoire included patronage, indoctrination, cooptation, non-routine contention, covert operations, and logistical support. Following Khomeini and the IRP's power consolidation, JS underwent demobilization and statist institutionalization by transforming from a revolutionary organization and counter-movement to an official, cabinet-level ministry. This transformation caused fragmentation between coopted pragmatists, who lobbied for and benefitted from bureaucratization, and disillusioned radicals, who opposed and resisted it. After becoming a full-fledged ministry, JS assisted the Islamic Republic with exporting the revolution to other parts of the Muslim and developing world. In Shiite Lebanon, JS cooperated with the local resistance movement, Hezbollah, to establish a local development organization modeled after itself. While statist institutionalization allowed the Islamic Republic to assert control over and moderate JS, the organization's former radicals in the bureaucracy and at the grassroots currently engaged in micro-mobilization to challenge the status quo. At the state and societal levels, JS conservatives and other regime supporters countered these reform efforts by similarly employing JS's original symbols and tactics, revealing the nature of factional politics in Iran.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Near Eastern Studies

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