In Anomie or Towards Anomie?

A discourse analysis regarding the socio-political polarization in the Modern Iranian Society from a postmodernism perspective

Spotlight [1]

The Anomie phenomenon in Iran finds itself in the format of a “polarized metamorphosis”; since the Islamic revolution, there has been a division between the political identities scattered in the heart of the society: The forces loyal to the revolution and the anti-revolutionary sects; yet the formation of this segregation is a matter of discussion and debate: “WHO AND HOW” draws such lines in the society? The presumption of “United We[2]” and the “Other” has been an inseparable part of the Iranian socio-political zeitgeist and the mere belief in the idea of “United We” has been a source of polarized categorization and political loyalty; active players of the society have been labeled based on their personal belief in a set of criteria that confirms their fidelity and adherence to one side of this pole; the related narrations are extremely interconnected and complex thus the presented research breaks down the leading instances to smaller pieces for a detailed analysis; to fulfill the objectives of this study, first a simplified philosophical ground is provided and then, some recent prominent discourses related to the issue of polarization are analyzed.

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Global concept of Anomie (Anomie Phase I)

  1. Primary Anomie: Anomie[3] is more like a situation; a state of affairs defined by an uprooting or breakdown of any moral values, standards or guidance for individuals affected by those rules; Anomie is believed to possibly evolve from conflict of belief systems and causes breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community (both economic and primary socialization). An example is alienation in a person that can progress into a dysfunctional inability to integrate within normative situations of their social world such as finding a job, achieving success in relationships, etc.
  • Enlightened Anomie ( Anomie phase II)[4]

Enlightened anomie happens in a more complicated and complex condition; in this situation, anomie happens between the “subjects” of a community in a horizontal manner (person to person/ cluster to cluster) the phenomenon of alienation doesn’t happen in this phase anymore; but instead we see a new advancement towards the polarization of the society in which each group tries to impose its “righteousness” over the other rival group; in this stage, anomie enters into a new “advanced” level and alienation gives way to aggression; this phenomenon can be translated to the “Death of Democracy[5] in a democratic community but in theocratic societies where the social structures are built differently ( whether historically or artificially)  consequences might be too much different and even harsher; for there exists few democratic institutions to moderate the “lost” dialogue or to guide the dialogue between the polarized groups.

  • A Postmodernist study of the Iranian Societal Polarization[6]

There exists no better theoretical lens than postmodernism to analyze the current states of interactions in the Iranian Society; if we pay closer attention to this aspect of postmodernism -that questions the existence of any superior or permanent narration-we can better perceive the radical polarization: {“there appears to be one opponent group that completely questions the dominant rhetoric”} speaking of radicalization, one may hear the following anti-discourse statements from the newly opposing inter -societal voices: “ what is the truth, and who has designed its components?” at this point and stage, the “signifiers” and the “signified” change their indications and performing slots in a linguistic ambiance; their meanings also get “deconstructed”.  The following indexes are a list of most repeated rhetoric and narrations in the literature of the active socio-political actors of the Iranian society.

C-1)    Notions of Enghelabi/non-Enghelabi[7]

Some years after the Islamic revolution of 1979, a popular rhetoric came to the political scene of Iran, dividing the forces in two fronts as a result : Enghelabi or non-Enghelabi; while the first requires active loyalty to the fundamentals of the Islamic revolution, the latter denies the forming rudimentary foundations of the Revolution and advertises its own propaganda; the terms and its related discourses have evolved during the passage of time and new vocabularies have replaced them; lexemes like “Hezbollahi[8]” is another term attributed to the group loyal to the Revolution fundamentals ( the term mixes religious beliefs of people with their political orientation) the polarization between these two ideological rivals just happens when they deny the whole narration of their opponents in an existential way blocking further possibilities of having constructive dialogue; these two terminologies are umbrella terms  for a wider variety of other narrations and discourses among the public opinion, examples of such are unique life styles, ( i.e.) way of talking, circle of the friends; the neighborhoods they live in, the clothes they wear, the restaurants they go to dine and even the cars they use! The radicalization is so eminent that even some people have created “conceptual defaults” in their minds and judge some people based on the car they ride or their dressing codes; I call this phenomenon the “politicization of objects”; at this point, the polarization reaches a radical level where the phenomenon of anomie might happen for some portion of the society.

C-1-2) Enghelabi/non-Enghelabi Anomie[9]

Stage of anomies between these two ideological trends happen after the radicalization of the dialogues; at this point, serious accusations arise from these two rivals and members attributed to these groups -with their special mentality – totally question the moralities of their opponents; we witness the collapse of the beliefs’ systems with a complete blockade of further discussion[10].

  • Hardliners against the reformists?

Hardlinims and reformism[11] are from the same comprehensive family and umbrella term that we discussed earlier; yes, we are talking about Enghelabi (revolutionary) ideology. There is this wrong perception –mostly from abroad or even in old Islamic Iran- that the reformism is a strong opposition to the core foundationalism criteria of the Islamic Revolution; but that is not the case; the dialectic argument in modern Iran is beyond the Hardi-Refo debate; the general belief is that the reformism is an inter-revolutionary invented narration to keep the balance between the opposite voices; a reformists insists and confirms the main principals but focuses more on leftist notions that a hardliner might neglect or not simply care about. So the conclusion could be that there is a “constructed polarization” between these two parties/ideology but not state of anomie towards the crucial principals and norms.

D-1) Take Side: Moderation Has no Place in Between

In recent studies, the hard political factors were of high importance and were the center of attention and analysis; technically writing, few words were directed towards socio-political state of the society and cultural dimensions together with other prominent factors were neglected; unfortunately, due to some miscalculations, the Islamic republic doesn’t solve the problems in their appropriate-related level; when a cultural aberration occurs, it shall be taken care of in its related cultural level; transferring a cultural problem into a political-security level will add to complexities and complications of the situation and cause more problems for the system; at this stage, the polarization might reach its climax where Moderation loses its meaning; you take side otherwise, you will be assigned one.

D-2) Women life Freedom: Climax of Polarization? Or the beginning of a climax?[12]

 One of the most recent social upheavals (that is still open to interpretation) is the WLF –women, life, freedom- movement that shocked the system for some months and made a societal fuss; what makes this movement different from the rest is that the young generation was mostly involved in the protests making it the first “Z”opposite voice; Hijab has been a historical-cultural debate and system could solve the related issues through the cultural level; but instead, a series of events directed this issue to the security-political level making it hard to overcome it easily; but it is not the end of story; this movement polarized the society even more and created a state of anomie for some of the youngsters; teenagers  who technically question the status quo [13] and all the previously established narratives; these young people were not parts of any former political party or organization but ordinary entities who separated themselves from everything that is regarded as political conservatism; this is no longer a political division between the forces of the same family, or in other words, a family quarrel; but instead, this is a moment of “ultra-polarization” or “ the “genuine polarization” where one narration completely deny the existence, reliability and accountability of the perceived and accepted discourse; the counter-narrative claims that no “superior truth” exists and if such a thing exists, it is the direct result of power mechanism and “imposed” not “embraced”.  


Dynamic evidences prove that the polarization in the Iranian society is moving towards a stat of anomie if proper measures are not taken into consideration; the young generation is constructing new meanings and at the same time is rejecting the old accepted notions and narrations; current state of affairs can’t be probed from a narrowed perspective but instead, a multi-facet analysis is required to go through all the indexes involved; the old constructed meanings of the 1979s are changing their place with newly emerged notions and literature and the policy makers are obliged to make themselves familiarized with such metamorphosis; to reduce the speed of such an anomie, a state of acceptance is necessary; an acceptance of fundamental reform both in practice and literature.


  1. جامعه «دوقطبی»، مطلوب است یا خطرناک؟. (2023, January 12). روزنامه دنیای اقتصاد.
  2. Khabaronline, خ. خ.-. آ. ا. ا. و. ج. |. (2023a, January 3). هشدار فاضلی، جامعه شناس درباره «خطر دوقطبی شدن جامعه» / طرفین، چندان ظرفیت گفت وگو ندارند. خبرآنلاین.
  3. Besnard, P. (2001). Anomie. In Elsevier eBooks (pp. 510–513).
  4. رحیمی, ز. (2020, January 18). دوقطبی به چهره ایران چنگ می زند. ایسنا.
  5. Tabnak, ت. |. (2023, November 13). حزب اللهی کیست و آیا مملکت مال حزب اللهی هاست؟. تابناک | TABNAK.
  6. نورنیوز. (n.d.). «انقلابی گری» یعنی چه و «انقلابی» کیست؟. نورنیوز.
  7. نیوز, ا. ر. ا. و. ج. |. آ. (2024, June 10). دوقطبی اصلاح طلب-اصولگرا برای رسیدن به پاستور. اخبار روز ایران و جهان | آفتاب نیوز.
  8.   پیام ما؛ رسانه توسعه پایدار ایران | خطر دوقطبی شدن جامعه زنان. (2022, September 11). پیام ما؛ رسانه توسعه پایدار ایران.

[1] جامعه «دوقطبی»، مطلوب است یا خطرناک؟. (2023, January 12). روزنامه دنیای اقتصاد.

[2] In the Iranian rhetoric, “united us/we “refers to the close but vast circle of the governmental affiliated figures.

[3] Besnard, P. (2001). Anomie. In Elsevier eBooks (pp. 510–513).

[4] Khabaronline, خ. خ.-. آ. ا. ا. و. ج. |. (2023a, January 3). هشدار فاضلی، جامعه شناس درباره «خطر دوقطبی شدن جامعه» / طرفین، چندان ظرفیت گفت وگو ندارند. خبرآنلاین.


[6] رحیمی, ز. (2020, January 18). دوقطبی به چهره ایران چنگ می زند. ایسنا.

[7] The Finglish equivalents have been used here to convey the native context to the readers; “Enghelabi’s” synonym is Revolutionary and non-Enghelabi refers to anti-revolution sentiments.  

[8] Tabnak, ت. |. (2023, November 13). حزب اللهی کیست و آیا مملکت مال حزب اللهی هاست؟. تابناک | TABNAK.

[9] نورنیوز. (n.d.). «انقلابی گری» یعنی چه و «انقلابی» کیست؟. نورنیوز.

[10] آنلاین, ا. (2023, October 31). انقلابی یعنی چه؟ باید دنبال رضایت مردم باشید. اطلاعات آنلاین.

[11] نیوز, ا. ر. ا. و. ج. |. آ. (2024, June 10). دوقطبی اصلاح طلب-اصولگرا برای رسیدن به پاستور. اخبار روز ایران و جهان | آفتاب نیوز.

[12] پیام ما؛ رسانه توسعه پایدار ایران | خطر دوقطبی شدن جامعه زنان. (2022, September 11). پیام ما؛ رسانه توسعه پایدار ایران.

[13] The spread of the social media, increase in international travels and other factors have made the Iranian young population to compare themselves with their counterparts in other countries; especially the countries of the Persian Gulf; so the status quo here is not merely referring to a political condition.