<<

. 50
( 55 .)



>>

Greif does this explicitly in his analysis of Genovese and Maghribi traders, while Geertz
implicitly does so in his structural conception of culture. See Avner Greif, ˜˜Cultural
Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Re¬‚ection on
Collectivist and Individualist Societies,™™ Journal of Political Economy 102 (October
1994), 912“50; and Geertz, ˜˜Suq: The Bazaar Economy in Sefrou.™™
276 Bazaar and State in Iran

most certainly exists (as it always seems to exist), but practices re¬‚ect
new social arrangements and the political and economic context. The
persistence and transformation of social norms is an area where greater
empirical research is required to unpack the role of structure and agency
and intracommunal and external factors.5
Finally, lest I underestimate the relevance of social forces in the
transformation of the organization of Bazaar, certain world economic
and socioeconomic factors obviously did play a role in encouraging a
delocalization of commercial networks and altering the parameters
of commerce. The narrative would be incomplete without accounting
for technological advances (e.g. fax machines, cell phones, and the
Internet), the globalization of ¬nancial ¬‚ows and regional commercial
developments (e.g. development of active commercial markets in the
UAE.), and world market forces affecting the terms of trade (e.g. decline
of the price of tea and hand-woven carpets). But it was shown that all
these forces were heavily mediated by local and state policies and
objectives, discrete transnational networks, and historical contingencies,
rather than a universal, homogenizing, and essentially market-driven
process. To give one example, without the Islamic Republic™s purging of
the prerevolutionary ¬nancial and commercial elite and the outbreak of
the war in the northern Persian Gulf, Dubai probably would not have
ˆ
become the entrepot to Iran and Central Asia it is now. Of course,
geopolitics and the UAE and Dubai governments™ labor and taxation
policies were commercially instrumental too. Moreover, the responses
available to bazaaris were structured by state policies and organizations
that placed institutional limits and opportunities based on priorities on
their development agenda.
Thus, it is necessary to analyze state policies and agents to explain the
transformation of the Bazaar. The Bazaar is not an impermeable entity
and its very existence depends on its relations to the broader Iranian
economy and metropolitan area “ its customers, industry, labor, trans-
portation system, and ¬nanciers. The Bazaar rests on the twin shoulders
of the economy and the urban setting. These two forces in turn are
neither detached from institutional political forces nor immune to
change. This is especially so in the developing world, where states not
only are designed to manage the economy and create political order, but
are driven by a goal of creating socioeconomic development and a new
social order.

5
For a theoretical introduction to this discussion see Michael Taylor, ˜˜Structure, Culture
and Action in the Explanation of Social Change,™™ Politics and Society 17 (June 1989),
115“62.
Conclusions 277

The analysis of the transformative programs of Iran™s last two regimes,
tells us not only about the changing fortunes of the Bazaar, but more
broadly about policy outcomes of states. I build on recent approaches to
the state that view state“society relations as mutually constitutive, where
state reach is limited and states and social forces shape one another. In
addition, states, even highly authoritarian ones, have dif¬culty in
devising schemes that dominate all dimensions of society. Not only do
states face technical procedural problems of collecting information,
developing rational bureaucracies, and applying policies to achieve
intended outcomes, but the scope of their development projects prohi-
bits omnipresent domination of society, and a state™s capacity to
implement its schemes is restricted by ˜˜tunnel vision.™™6 Modern nation-
states focus on only a few segments of an intricate and complex reality.
They simplify societies in order to make the world more legible and in
order to focus on speci¬c sectors and locations. In the process state
projects necessarily disregard other elements of social life. During the
late Pahlavi era the state co-opted (large industrialists), suppressed
(landlords, urban middle-class opposition groups), and mobilized
(peasants) other groups, yet it ignored the bazaaris because of the pre-
mises of high modernism. Nonetheless, what states ignore or which
segments of society which are unseen by planners is just as politically
important as what they focus on. To fully understand state“society
relations and avoid reproducing the blinders of developmental scripts,
scholars must investigate what happens in the neglected areas and how
policies reverberate through social structures. Transformation and
maintenance of social order is not the provenance of conscious decisions
of rulers and developmental experts. Groups develop multiple reper-
toires to pattern state“society relations, including manipulation of dis-
crepancies in state institutions, stealthy avoidance of regulatory regimes,
and creation and regeneration of autonomous institutions. Thus, to
understand political outcomes we must decipher the prevailing struc-
tures of given groups and societies.
The narrative shows that policy outcomes emerge out of a complex
process of interaction and negotiation between a state with limited vision
and competing agendas and multiple social groups, some of which have
particular organizational endowments. Thus, a general proposition that
emerges is that regimes, especially those with transformative agendas, that
implement development projects but do not incorporate social groups
with existing social endowments risk facing opposition from the groups

6
James Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition
Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).
278 Bazaar and State in Iran

that were ignored or bypassed. Meanwhile, regimes that incorporate
groups, even without the explicit intention to depoliticize them, transform
governance within groups in a way that is demobilizing.
This conclusion departs from earlier inquiries that claim that political
instability and social decay are caused by the inability of political
institutions to mobilize new classes created by modernization and
individuals from ˜˜traditional™™ groups, which are atomized as the
modernization process weakens their communal ties.7 In the Iranian
case, while developmental success did lead to the growth of a new
middle class, it did not weaken relations within existing groups and it
was these very groups (the bazaar and the clergy) that were among the
earliest members of the revolutionary coalition producing ˜˜political
instability.™™ The new middle class and intelligentsia that are created by
institutions of the state are generally more manageable (if not incorpo-
rated or mobilized into politics) than traditional groups that enjoy a
prevailing autonomy from state institutions in the ¬rst place. Thus
political instability is not a result of weakened communal bonds and the
mobilization of the traditional groups by political entrepreneurs, but the
persistence and even strengthening of traditional communal ties during
modernization is a distinct possibility.8
The dialogical processes through which states and societies are con-
stituted occur through patterned and ongoing relations, or networks.
First, networks are the mechanism connecting state transformative
programs to the organization of the Tehran Bazaar. The impact of state
policies on the Bazaar is captured by the realignment of the networks as
state institutions change. In addition, creation and adjustment of net-
works are the means by which the members of the Bazaar have nego-
tiated state absence or incorporation. This dynamic process, therefore,
recon¬gures state“bazaar relations in ways that cannot be fully captured
by a purely societal or state perspective.
This network-based argument has at least two theoretical implica-
tions. First, the analysis demonstrates that policies and development
schemes are susceptible to unexpected and unintended outcomes in part
because social groups have multiple means to abide by, abuse, or eschew
state policies. State institutions do not operate in isolation from net-
works or other institutions and social actors are often given a space to
maneuver against new initiatives. Thus, researchers must not assume

7
Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1968).
8
I thank Tamir Moustafa for bringing this point to my attention and encouraging me to
situate my analysis in relation to Huntingtonian approaches to development and
stability.
Conclusions 279

that political outcomes, especially over time, can be read off state
proclamations and programs, or vice versa, that state intentions can be
inferred from outcomes. This implies that zero-sum approaches to
state“society relations over“emphasize state intentions and understate
social capacities.
Second, networks are in themselves a powerful causal mechanism.
A wide array of scholars have discussed the importance of identifying
causal mechanisms that connect variables and are transportable across
different research questions. This study demonstrates that networks are
a device connecting individual-level analysis to macrostructures through
their generation and reproduction of norms, habitus, and group iden-
tities. Networks bridge the theoretical divide between atomized indivi-
dual actors and larger structural categories (such as class, culture, or
market) by presenting opportunities to individuals and integrating
individuals into groups in speci¬c ways. Thus, placing networks at the
center of this analysis allows one to identify the conditions under which
solidarity is created, how institutions reshape economic behavior, and
the types of networks necessary for political mobilization.

Was the Islamic Revolution a social revolution?
˜˜But the Iranian Revolution has been so obviously mass-based and so
thoroughly transformative of basic sociocultural and socioeconomic
relationships in Iran that it surely ¬ts more closely the pattern of the
great historical social revolutions than it does the rubric of simply a
political revolution, where only government institutions are trans-
formed.™™9 It is over twenty years since Theda Skocpol wrote these
words and it is now over a quarter century since the national strikes and
mass rallies ˜˜made the Revolution™™ ending the Pahlavi dynasty. Except
in the hearts and minds of those few unwavering royalists, the monarchy
remains only in the pages of history books and Iran has entered a new
political era. But was the Revolution so radically transformative? Would
Iran™s ˜˜basic sociocultural and socioeconomic relationships™™ have
evolved to produce the same social fabric and types of state“society
relations without the Revolution? Is modern Iran a product of the
Revolution or was the Revolution epiphenomenal to an inevitable evo-
lutionary process? These are questions that loom over the study of
modern Iran and the modern Middle East.


9
Theda Skocpol, ˜˜Rentier State and Shi™a Islam in the Iranian Revolution,™™ Theory and
Society 11 (1982), 266.
280 Bazaar and State in Iran

The previous chapters have proposed that the Islamic Revolution
was in fact more than a simple change from the crown to the turban.
Instead, it was a social revolution, or an overhaul of both social and
political relations. The Revolution and subsequent consolidation of the
state restructured this very important social group in profound ways.10
Under the Islamic Republic a new class of state-af¬liated import“
exporters and off-shore traders has emerged, while the Bazaar-centered
mercantile class has been decentered as a collectivity, although not
impoverished as individuals. More generally, although the Islamic
Republic has a more inclusionary mode of rule, it is one that does not
manage social groups in their preexisting form. This inclusion, there-
fore, has had important consequences for governance and mobilization
in the Tehran marketplace. While more research is necessary to com-
pare the organization of other social groups over time and relations
between them, the analysis of the Bazaar suggests that the Revolution
and new political order not only altered the composition of the political
elite and the institutions of the state, but probably also led to a
restructuring of relations within society, including among the clergy.
If the Revolution was transformative, it was not, however, one that
has generated a democratic regime. Some of its activists may indeed not
have intended to do so, preferring an Islamic government, Islamic
republic, or a people™s republic instead of a democratic republic. But
recent trends in Iran point to a renewed and deep desire for accountable
and responsive rule. If twentieth-century Iran was framed by social
movements, the twenty-¬rst century has begun with democracy as the
principal discourse. One Iranian intellectual and pundit has com-
mented, ˜˜After the experience of the Revolution of ™57 [1979], people
have become aware of this point that changing the structure of the state
by any means cannot be responsive. Therefore, the discourse of
democracy for the ¬rst time in Iran is the most important element in the
reformist discourse, or even the revolutionary discourse.™™11 Thus, over
the past decade, and in the face of sometimes brutal oppression,
members of the old revolutionary coalition, new social critics, and old
opposition ¬gures have begun to create umbrella fronts while student
organizations and NGOs have mushroomed to challenge the state anew
on the grounds that it does not protect civil, political, and social rights
enumerated and unenumerated in the Constitution.

10
Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1979).
11
Interview with Khashayar Dayhimi and Hamid-Reza Jalaiipur, ˜˜Jame˜eh Shenasi-ye
Siyasi-ye Eslahat,™™ Aftab, 18 (Shahrivar 1381 (2002)), 5.
Conclusions 281

Yet, as we saw in Chapter 6, the bazaaris have been largely absent from
these ˜˜movements™™ and lack suf¬cient organizational capacity. How can
they be mobilized into a movement for the transition to democracy and
what would such a movement look like? Members of the Bazaar and the
democratic groups must identify a compatibility of interests across the
groups in order to frame and motivate action. Where the interests of
bazaaris, democratic activists, and reformist politicians meet is precisely at
some of the foundational principles of democracy “ equal standing before
the law and the creation and application of public policy based on public
rather than private interests. For bazaaris, the root causes of their inability to
invest, plan, and engage in trade lay in the arbitrary changes in the law,
privileged status given to political allies and clan-like economic foundations,
and lack of a single law-making body and powerful executive that can apply
laws and reform bureaucracies. These very same issues prevent the equal
representation of interests, the fair application of law, and the accountability
of state institutions at the broader political level. The activists™ discussion
about civil rights and the bazaaris™ implicit desire for an enforcement of
property rights can and should be associated with one another, although not
necessarily viewed as practically or normatively commensurate.
Transforming these shared interests into political action requires
organizations that are less exclusionary and more participatory. Bazaaris
must work with other social groups, and political organizations must
turn to the business community and mobilize it. If the mobilization
capacity of the Bazaar has decreased, political entrepreneurs must
fashion new networks that will create interactions and cut across com-
munal, corporate, and familial lines. Thus, here the shift from coop-
erative to coercive hierarchies may be viewed as an asset since bazaaris
relate to one another in less communal terms. By strengthening internal
solidarity among bazaaris, cooperative hierarchies helped bazaaris to
develop a corporate understanding with markers of distinction and a
code of ethics, but they also encouraged distrust of outsiders, the state in
particular. The recent breaking of this insularity may be re¬gured into a
potential emancipatory boon for Iranian society if bazaaris can be
integrated more generally into the urban society.
Bringing members of the Bazaar into the democratic tent, of course,

<<

. 50
( 55 .)



>>