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The Impacts of the Internet on Iranian sense of national identity

H. Kazeroun, Mohammad (2009) The Impacts of the Internet on Iranian sense of national identity. In: Proceedings of the WebSci'09: Society On-Line, 18-20 March 2009, Athens, Greece. (In Press)

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Respond to the Internet by secular Western societies is different from what is happening in Islamic societies such as Iran. There have been a few researches to analyze the impact of the Internet on, or the reaction toward the Internet, by “Oriental societies” including Iran. However, in theory, there are two major approaches that I call optimistic and pessimistic. Namely, critical theory could be classified in the second notion. Most of critical theorists see the Internet in the way that they used to criticize technology and media; they believe that what media does is to commodify cultural objects. In this article, I am going to evaluate the approach of Jean Baudrillard, French philosopher and critical theorist, in this regard to analyze the impact of the Internet, as the new media, on Iranian sense of national identity which is, in this case, extremely related to their religious identity. In Baudrillardian theme, the Internet is another mechanism to stabilize and to globalize hegemony of the capitalist system in its latest version: “Consumerism”. Baudrillard criticizes the West for the total domination of “simulacrum” through media technologies and for the reduction of religious experience to a commodity. I use his ideas herein because his critiques of political economy of signs and commodification of everyday life provide a proper basis to illustrate the differences between Oriental and Occidental societies and account for a postmodern Orientalism. In Baudrillard’s view, Islam as a symbolic religion is inherently different from Western civilization. Islam’s simulation in the Western media would seem to entail that it does have a tendency to be fundamentalist, and that its survival as an essentially fundamentalist religion depends upon the media-technological backwardness of Islamic nations. Therefore, in his point of view, the clash between West and Islam seems to be inevitable. However, it could be argued, as Mark Poster does, that Baudrillard’s theory is limited to the unidirectional media; therefore the new bidirectional, decentralized media such as the Internet can provide opportunities to reconstruct the mechanisms of subject construction and can change the logic of simulation that Baudrillard uses. The main argument is that: What does happen when this new media emerges in an Islamic society such as Iran and how does it effect on the global equilibrium of power? Does it undermine Iranian's sense of belonging to a religious nation and help to globalize hegemony of Wester culture? I use Poster’s critique on Baudrillard’s theory to argue, in contrast with Baudrillard, that the Internet, in contrast with broadcast media, has provided a relatively free space to dialogue with others which has been used by Iranian to change the image of Islam (Shiite) and Iran in the world and expand the religoius beliefs in cyberspace which can be interpreted as a “reverse globalisation” in Roland Robertson’s theory. This idea will be supported by some researches and studies that have been carried out about the use of the Internet by Iranian citizens.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Iran, National Identity, The Internet, Globalization, Jean Baudrillard
Subjects:Web Science Events > Web Science 2009
ID Code:193
Deposited By: W S T Administrator
Deposited On:24 Jan 2009 08:45
Last Modified:15 Mar 2009 23:43

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