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Iranian agriculture and rural society have undergone profound socioeconomic and political changes over the past four decades. While recognizing the significant impact of urbanization, economic development, and integration of the rural economy in the market, this paper contends that the land-reform program of the 1960s and the 1979 revolution represent the primary turning points in the rural transformation. Land reform, through intense state intervention, dramatically changed the traditional landlord-sharecropping system (nizam-i arbab-rayati). Peasant uprisings, the forcible occupation of large estates, and the agrarian policies of the postrevolutionary regime have led to the demise of the urban agricultural bourgeoisie and the empowerment of the peasants. There has been a disintegration of large-scale public and private agricultural production systems, including agribusinesses, farm corporations, and the agricultural production cooperatives developed under the shah's regime.
Agrarian issues and rural development have been among the most controversial themes of scholarly studies in contemporary Iran, especially in the post-revolutionary era, when dramatic restructuring of the socio-economic and political order, often dominated by intense ideological debates and political fiction, has largely impeded critical examination and empirical investigation of the issues. This makes Ali Shakoori's sociological enquiry a timely contribution to the understanding of rural politics and development during the past two decades. The book's primary objective is to explore the socio-economic impact of state rural-development policies and programs at the societal level, as well as at the village-community level. The author contends that, despite various development efforts initiated by the state and considerable improvements in the rural economy and its infrastructure, the revolutionary goal of increasing peasant participation in decision-making, with progress toward a more equal distribution of income and wealth, is yet to be realized.