Workless revolutionaries: The unemployed movement in revolutionary Iran

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This article chronicles the genesis, process and forms of collective protests by the unemployed in Iran immediately following the revolution of 1979. It analyzes the dynamics of jobless mobilization in demanding employment and social protection by exploring its complex relationships with the Islamic government, the opposition forces and the broader revolutionary process. In developing countries, an organized struggle of the unemployed for jobs and protection is extremely rare, notwithstanding high rates of open and concealed joblessness. Family, kinship, patron-client relationships and especially the informal sector provide essential mechanisms for protection and survival; lack of organization generally prevents the emergence of sustained protest movements. I argue that the conjuncture-based articulation of resources and political opportunity underlying the movement set the Iranian case apart. The resources included the post-revolutionary massive and sudden loss of jobs along with the rise of a revolutionary ideology among the jobless.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-185
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Review of Social History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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