Traditionalism in Twentieth-century Iran

  • Said Amir Arjomand
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


By traditionalism I mean to designate the type of social thought, action or movement which arises when a tradition becomes self-conscious either in missionary rivalry with competing traditions or in the face of a serious threat of erosion or extinction emanating from its socio-political or cultural environment. Traditional social action is spontaneous and unreflective, whereas traditionalist action is self-conscious, accompanied by some apologetic or polemical rationale. Whereas traditional attitudes are dormant tendencies which the individual harbours within himself, traditionalism is conscious and reflective since it arises as a counter-movement in conscious opposition to a rival set of beliefs and mode of conduct. Whereas the traditional man is at best only dimly conscious of the sources of the tradition and of the rationale for certain concrete traditional patterns of action, the traditionalist idealises tradition and constructs a fairly rationalised set of norms which are linked to the sources of tradition and are sharply contrasted to the alien norms of the rival belief system.


Religious Association Religious Leader Religious Authority Ruling Elite Divine Commandment 
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© Social Science Research Council 1984

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  • Said Amir Arjomand

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