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Civil Society in Syria and Iran: Activism in Authoritarian Contexts

Paul Aarts and Francesco Cavatorta, editors
Civil Society in Syria and Iran: Activism in Authoritarian Contexts
ISBN: 978-1-58826-881-5
ISBN: 978-1-58826-857-0
ISBN: 978-1-62637-608-3
2012/259 pages/LC: 2012022251
"Empirically rich and theoretically engaging."—Eric Lob, Iranian Studies

"Rich with information and analysis on the various aspects and effects of authoritarianism in Syria and Iran.... Indispensable and highly recommended for those who study the Middle East and follow the literature on authoritarianism in general."—Jubin M. Goodarzi, Perspectives on Politics


What are the dynamics of civic activism in authoritarian regimes? How do new social actors—many of them informal, "below the radar" groups—interact with these regimes? What mechanisms do the power elite employ to deal with societal dissidence? The authors of Civil Society in Syria and Iran explore the nature of state-society relations in two countries that are experiencing popular demands for political pluralism amid the constraints of authoritarian retrenchment.


Paul Aarts is senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Amsterdam. He is cofounder of ZemZem, a Dutch magazine focusing on the Middle East and North Africa, and coauthor of Saudi Arabia in the Balance: Political Economy, Society, Foreign Affairs. Francesco Cavatorta is senior lecturer in the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University. His publications include Civil Society and Democratization in the Arab World and The International Dimension of the Failed Algerian Transition.


  • Civil Society in Syria and Iran—the Editors.
  • Syria's Civil Society as a Tool for Regime Legitimacy—L. Khatib.
  • Iran's Civil Society Grappling With a Triangular Dynamic—A. Fathollah-Nejad.
  • Business Associations and the New Nexus of Power in Syria—B. Haddad.
  • The Ambiguous Role of Entrepreneurs in Iran—P. Jafari.
  • The Internet and Civil Activism in Syria—R. Schaery-Eisenlohr and  F. Cavatorta.
  • From Virtual to Tangible Social Movements in Iran—A. Honari.
  • The Paradox of Government-Organized Civil Activism in Syria—S. Kawakibi.
  • Co-opting Civil Society Activism in Iran—P. Rivetti.
  • Civil Society Activism in Authoritarian Regimes—M.K. Al-Sayyid.