Difference in Difference: Language, Geography, and Ethno-Racial Identity in Contemporary Iran

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt


Three approaches to portraying ethno-racial and national identity for Iran are common: a discretizing approach that groups and conflates ethnicity, language and geography; a civic-territorial conception of nationalism as supra-ethnic Iranian-ness; and an ethno-nationalist approach that criticizes the former for privileging a state-centered, Persian-Shiite majority’s culture and status. Instead of arbitrating between them, we propose a sociological approach that compares different forms of ethno-racial self-identification in modern Iran. Using the 2016 Iran Social Survey, which asks open-ended questions on ethno-racial self-identification, we find wide variation in how ethnic identity is expressed. On the one hand, the findings suggest that a sizable degree of mismatch exists, where concepts of ethnic groupness are confusing or not fully recognizable to many individuals. On the other hand, we also find that multi-ethnic self-identification is common, including across the ethno-racial boundaries often portrayed as closed and mutually exclusive groups in Western discussions on Iran.
TidsskriftEthnic and Racial Studies
Udgave nummer12
Sider (fra-til)2255-2281
Antal sider27
StatusUdgivet - 12 mar. 2021


  • Det Humanistiske Fakultet - Etnicitet, mindretal, Iran, kvantitativ sociologi, Sociologi, Sprog, Majoritet, Nationalisme

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