Author: Gholam Khiabany (London Metropolitan University)
As part of an increasing international trend highlighting the ‘singularity’ of the subject of study and arguing that so-called universal theories of society and culture do not fit, communications have been increasingly conceptualised in terms like ‘Asian’, ‘African’ and ‘Islamic’. Some researchers have been eager to play up difference between Eastern and Western value systems and experience. Wider considerations and contexts are usually brushed aside to pave the way for a singular ‘culturalist’ explanation of the media in the global South, and in particular the Middle East. By examining the Iranian media, and the interaction between state ideology and the logic of capital, this article suggests that there is no possibility of a particular theory of communication. The reappearance of the sacred has prompted a number of scholars to question the conventional sociological wisdom that ‘Athens has nothing to do with Jerusalem’. This return does not indicate the passing of the world that Sociology wanted to understand. In Iran, as elsewhere, much of state’s political legitimacy rests on its use of force as the ultimate sanction. The struggle over the monopoly of the means of symbolic violence, namely the attempted Islamicisation of the media, is increasingly important and cannot be separated from the former. States, as the case of Iran demonstrates, are seldom abstract or singular and have many contradictory institutions and units, and individual and institutional differences, policies and interests. The Iranian communication scene is peculiar in that liberalisation and privatisation are the order of the day, but the state is still reluctant to give up ideological control and is thus caught between the web of pragmatism and the imperative of the market, and the straightjacket of ‘Islamism’.
Keywords: Iranian Media, Iranian State, Cultural Values, Islamic Communication, Middle East, Iran
How to Cite: Khiabany, G. (2017) “Religion and Media in Iran: The Imperative of the Market and the Straightjacket of Islamism”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 3(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.16997/wpcc.27