The Iranian reform movement provides a valuable theoretical and practical case-study relevant to the events unfolding in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA). While each instance has its own particular circumstances and nuances, parallels can be drawn. In particular, the language and concept of civil society is a common denominator, whereby analysts and strategists from domestic and international government and nongovernmental institutions place a heavy burden on it. In these cases, the power of civil society is considered a vital component in the fight against oppressive regimes. There is an assumption that civil society, in contrast to the state, is a just representative of the “people’s voice.” However, this assumption does not take into account the existence of power politics in all spheres of human interaction. Civil society is not a homogenous entity with a singular goal. Rather, it is an amalgamation of different ideas, spaces, people, and organizations with different viewpoints and agendas.
KeywordsCivil Society Social Movement Political Opportunity Public Intellectual Civil Society Actor
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