The Matrix of Communication in Social Movements

A Comparison of the 1979 Revolution and 2009 Green Movement in Iran

in Sociology of Islam
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Communication technology has played a central role in the last two great socio-political uprisings in Iran’s history: The 1979 Revolution and 2009 Green Movement. By identifying three distinct elements of the communication process, this paper explores how the ability of the political opposition to communicate effectively contributed to the success or decline of these movements as one factor among a broader set of key factors. The first element is the ‘mainstream media’, which is professional, hierarchically structured and often funded by states, big corporations or major publicly funded organizations. ‘Alternative media’, in contrast, is amateur, has a participatory and horizontal working structure and often limited funding. The third, the ‘social network’, is a collection of actors who seek iterative and persisting exchanges among themselves based on common interests, beliefs, and other ties. This trinity constitutes what has been called the ‘matrix of communication’ in this paper.

The Matrix of Communication in Social Movements

A Comparison of the 1979 Revolution and 2009 Green Movement in Iran

in Sociology of Islam



  • AlikhahFardin. (2008) The politics of satellite television in Iran. In SematiMehdi (Ed) Media culture and society in Iran: living with globalization and the Islamic state pp. 94110. London: Routledge pp. 94110.

  • AtkinsonJoshua. (2006) Analyzing Resistance Narratives at the North American Anarchist Gathering: A Method for Analyzing Social Justice Alternative Media. Journal of Communication Inquiry30(3) 251272.

  • AttonChris. (2002) Alternative mediaLondon: sage.

  • CarrieriMatthew et al. (2013) After the Green Movement: Internet Controls in Iran, 2009–2012. OpenNet Initiative [online] February. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 November 2013].

  • CastellsManuel. (2009) Communication Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • CastellsManuel. (2012) Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Cambridge: Polity.

  • DabashiHamid. (2010) Iran The Green Movement and the usa: The Fox and the ParadoxLondon: Zed Books.

  • FathiNazila. (2009) Iran President and Challenger Clash in Heated Debate. The New York Times [online] 4 June. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 November 2013].

  • FoucaultMichel. (1978) The Revolt in Iran Spreads on Cassette Tapes. Corriere Della Sera 19 November. Reprint in J. Afary & K. Anderson Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: gender and the seductions of Islamism pp. 216220. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • GhaedMohammad. (2010) Belief versus Expediency (Eteghad Dar Barabar-e Maslahat). M. Ghaed [online] January. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 November 2013].

  • GladwellMalcolm. (2010) Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted. The New Yorker [online] 4 October. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 November 2013].

  • HamiltonJames. (2000) Alternative Media: Conceptual Difficulties, Critical Possibilities. Journal of Communication Inquiry24(4) 357378.

  • HarcupTony (2014) A dictionary of journalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • HenryClement M. and SpringborgRobert. (2010) Globalization and the politics of development in the Middle EastCambridge, uk: Cambridge University Press.

  • HowardPhilip N. (2011) The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • KeddieNikki R. (2006) Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution. New Haven: Yale University Press.

  • KhameneiAli. (2009) Supreme Leader’s Friday Prayer Address. The Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei [online] 29 July. Available at: < > [Accessed 15 November 2013].

  • KurzmanCharles. (2004) The unthinkable revolution in Iran. Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press.

  • KurzmanCharles. (2005) The Network Metaphor & the Mosque Network in Iran, 1978–1979. In CookeMiriam and LawrenceBruce B. (Eds) Muslim Networks from Hajj to Hip Hop pp. 6983. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

  • MahdaviMojtaba. (2014) The Rise of Khomeinism: Problematizing the Politics of Resistance in Pre-Revolutionary Iran. In Adib-MoghaddamArshin (Ed) A critical introduction to Khomeini pp. 4368. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • MorozovEvgeny. (2009) The Brave New World of Slacktivism. Foreign Policy [online] 19 May. Available at:<> [Accessed 15 November 2013].

  • MorozovEvgeny. (2011) The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. New York: PublicAffairs.

  • MorrowLance. (1979) Time Essay: The Dynamics of Revolution. Time113(11): 5354.

  • NaficyHamid. (2012) A Social History of Iranian Cinema Volume 4: The Globalizing Era 1984–2010Durham, nc: Duke University Press.

  • PfeifleMark. (2009) A Nobel Peace Prize for Twitter?The Christian Science Monitor [online] 6 July. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 November 2013].

  • PrellChristina. (2012) Social Network Analysis: History Theory and Methodology. Los Angeles: sage.

  • RahnemaAli. (2000) Hosseiniyeh Ershad. In An Islamic utopian: a political biography of Ali Shari’ati pp. 226245. London: i.b. Tauris.

  • SabetySetareh. (2010) Graphic Content: The Semiotics of a YouTube Uprising. In KamalipourYahya R. (Ed) Media Power and Politics in the Digital Age: The 2009 Presidential Election Uprising in Iran pp. 11924. Lanham, md: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • ShahidiHossein. (2007) Journalism in Iran: From Mission to Profession. London: Routledge.

  • Sreberny-MohammadiAnnabelle and MohammadiAli. (1994) Small Media Big Revolution: Communication Culture and the Iranian Revolution. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

  • TorfehMassoumeh and SrebernyAnnabelle. (2010) The bbc Persian Service and the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication3(2): 216241.

  • TimesWashington. (2009) Iran’s Twitter Revolution. The Washington Times [Online] 16 June. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 November 2013].

  • YahyanedjadMehdi and GheytanchiElham. (2012) Social Media, Dissent, and Iran’s Green Movement. In DiamondLarry Jay. and PlattnerMarc F. (Eds) Liberation Technology: Social Media and the Struggle for Democracy pp. 13953. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

  • ZhangMingxin. (2010) Social Network Analysis: History, Concepts, and Research. In FurhtBorivoje (Ed) Handbook of social network Technologies and Applications pp. 322. New York: Springer.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 95 95 13
Full Text Views 238 238 0
PDF Downloads 11 11 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0