Research Student: Dr Alam Saleh
Identity and societal security in Iran
My thesis seeks to explore the question of societal security in Iran since the Islamic revolution. This is important since most of the literature dealing with Iranian security issues does so from a Realist perspective. With this emphasis on the Realist approach, the impact of what has been termed societal security on Iran’s regional position has received scant scholarly attention and it is this issue that forms the conceptual basis of this thesis. Therefore, this research highlights the importance of societal security in the context of national security and foreign policy in Iran.
Societal security posits a link between State legitimacy and internal instability. Lack of a coherent societal identity or the presence of contending national identities within the state is a symptom for a societal insecurity. To this end, this thesis examines the concept of societal security, as representing a challenge to the stability and legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In short, the study will attempt to identify specifically the origins and the roots of potential threats to societal security in Iran and the extent to which these manifest themselves in Iran’s external relations.
This study, therefore, focuses on two crucial factors in Iran's identity discourse; Nationalism and Islamism, and how this has impacted upon the state's societal security dilemma. These two ideologies have been linked in an attempt to create a unified Iranian identity. Conflicts between the two identities have had a great impact on Iran’s domestic, regional and international policy making.
As such, this thesis regards discussion of these key variable as central to any understanding of the security challenges that Tehran now faces as its seeks to secure both its internal identity, and external security.