Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Nakhaie, Reza




Iranian society has undergone significant transformations since the 1962 Land Reform and the modernization plans implemented by its different governments. These transformations include industrialization, bureaucratization, population explosion, rural-urban migration, increase in the size of the working class, massive entry of women into the labor force, and the subsequent 1979 Islamic Revolution. Since the Revolution, the class structure and the composition of Iran’s political elites have changed significantly. Previous research has been particularly less attentive to the relationship between the structure of classes in Iran and the demographic composition of elected members of parliament (MPs). This study aims to enhance previous research by studying the nature and extent of representativeness of members of the Iranian parliament since the Revolution. Special attention will be paid to the descriptive representation of MPs by calculating the index of dissimilarity. Utilizing data on the occupational distribution of the general population and parliamentarians, this study will identify social class representativeness of MPs in each of the ten parliamentarian elections from 1980 to 2016. It employs a mixed methodology placing emphasis on the demographic (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.) and socioeconomic (education and occupation) dimensions of political representation. Using various theoretical models, it will test the extent to which each of the liberal-pluralist, instrumentalist and structuralist Marxists, or cultural reproduction theoretical approaches fit the evidence. The current study finds that educational credential, as a measure of credentialized cultural capital, is an important predictor of being elected as a member of parliament in Iran, supporting the cultural reproduction theory. Evidence also supports Marxist theory in that working class is underrepresented in the Majles, and that education itself is class-based. Finally, this study observes strong representation of professional and managerial class among the parliamentarians which lends support to liberal-pluralist theory.