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Monolithic Religious Markets, Fragmented State Structures, and Islamic Fundamentalism Among Iranians and the Middle East and North Africa


Monolithic Religious Markets, Fragmented State Structures, and Islamic Fundamentalism Among Iranians and the Middle East and North Africa

Abstract: 

Conceptualizing fundamentalism as an orientation toward one’s religion, this paper proposes that fundamentalism on the macro level results from two types of monopolies in the religious market: (1) a state-imposed secular monopoly and (2) a religious monopoly aligned with a unified authoritarian state, (3) but it declines when a religious monopoly is supported by a fragmented regime that sustains a fractionalized elite. The conditions of post-independence (1919) Egypt and pre-revolutionary Iran conform to the first, Saudi Arabia to the second, and post-revolutionary Iran to the third. Testing these propositions by using cross-national data from fourteen Middle Eastern and North African countries, the results show that fundamentalism is linked (1) positively to state authoritarianism, (2) positively to state regulation of religion, and (3) negatively to fractionalized elites. On the micro level, this paper shows that variation in fundamentalism among Iranians is connected to the features of the Islamic regime –religiosity, Islamic identity, trust in the mosque and in different institutions of the state, hostility toward outgroups and the West, and the reliance on the regime-controlled TV as a source of entertainment. Beyond religion and regime, fundamentalism is negatively linked to socioeconomic status, urban living, liberalism, and access to diverse sources of information, but positively to the perception that the economy works for the benefit of all Iranians. Sunnis are more fundamentalist, but Kurds and Lurs are less.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Moaddel, Mansoor. 2017. "Monolithic Religious Markets, Fragmented State Structures, and Islamic Fundamentalism Among Iranians and the Middle East and North Africa." International Review of Development Studies 1 (April): 33-62. https://www.cairn.info/revue-internationale-des-etudes-du-developpement-2017-1-page-33.htm

START Author(s): 
Mansoor Moaddel
Publication URL: 
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