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Ansari, A. M. (1998) Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the myth of imperial authority. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The thesis is an investigation into the concept of modem political myth and its relationship to ideology. It argues that political myth can best be understood as the personalisation or familiarisation of ideology, by which ideological constructions are identified either with an individual, normally a political leader, or are expressed in mythic representations familiar within a given state and drawn from the traditional myths which permeate the political cultures of that state. The thesis argues that the personalisation and possible personification of ideology is one of the most obvious methods of political myth production and notes that the inherent contradictions and tensions resulting from an attempt to identify an individual with a principle almost always results in the construction of political myth. Political myth construction and development remains dynamic and reciprocal in relation to its ideational and material environment. Iran during the Pahlavi period (1921-79) provides the case-study for the thesis, as a society in the process of profound social and economic change led by a government both enthusiastic and economically able to impose its own particular conception of development and modernity within a nationalistic framework, upon the country. The continued importance of personalities to the political process and then attempts to identify with particular ideologies provided cogent examples of political myth construction and development. With particular emphasis on Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the thesis shows the development of his ideological world-view, the initial reciprocal dynamic of these views, leading towards increasing identification, polarisation and isolation by the end of his reign. The thesis seeks to show how political myth was employed to naturalise and legitimise the Pahlavi Dynasty within the Iranian state. In charting the ideological development in the Pahlavi era, from traditional state towards a particular conception of modernity, political myth is seen to be not a uniquely modem phenomenon. However, the emergence of the modem mass media, especially in electronic form has resulted in the acceleration of political myth construction and its widespread and rapid dissemination. This technological change helps to differentiate modern political myth from its predecessors and given the continuing growth of the mass media, is likely to ensure that the concept of political myth wall be increasingly important to political discourse.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:58

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