Reasons to Revolt: Iranian Oil Workers in the 1970s

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Oil workers played a pivotal role during the Iranian Revolution of 1978–1979. Involving tens of thousands of workers, oil strikes paralyzed the state and paved the way for the Shah’s downfall. Various accounts of these strikes, however, ignore the subjectivity and agency of the oil workers by focusing exclusively on the role of political agitation. Addressing this deficit, this article explores the oil workers’ experiences in and out of the workplace in the 1970s in order to contextualize their participation in the revolution. After analyzing the oil strikes and their goals, the article makes two arguments: First, oil workers were conscious of the considerable power they had to disrupt the economic and political routine of the country. Second, the demands of the oil strikes reflected grievances that, while reflecting sentiments in the wider society, were embedded in their own specific conditions and experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-217
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Labor and Working-Class History
Issue numberFall
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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