Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Political Science (MA)

Degree Level



Political Science


Najib Ghadbian

Committee Member

Patrick Conge

Second Committee Member

Joel Gordon


Social sciences, Arab spring, Arab uprisings, Framing, Iran


In the wake of the recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, political figures in Iran have offered competing claims of inspiration for the protests now spreading through the broader MENA region. This paper aims to compare the discourse of regime leaders to that of opposition activists, each seeking to frame current events in the region as a reflection of their particular aspirations and competing worldviews. Benford and Snow's literature on challenges facing movement adherents embroiled in contested framing processes will be employed as a means of highlighting some of the various obstacles to political transformation in the case of Iran. The authors outline three major challenges that serve to structure this discussion: "1) counterframing by movement opponents, bystanders and the media, 2) frame disputes within movements, and 3) the dialectic between frames and events" (Benford and Snow, 2000, 625). Examining the competing narratives of regime leaders and opposition activists in this manner will help clarify the unique challenges inherent to political transformation in the case of Iran, while contributing to the growing body of literature pertaining to authoritarian resilience and political mobility of opposition actors in the Middle East.