Gender, Group Solidarity, Group Conflict, and the Civic Engagement of Iranian Americans

Jessica Emami

Advisor: Shannon N Davis, PhD, Mason Korea

Committee Members: Rutledge Dennis, Dae Young Kim

The Hub, #VIP 3
April 18, 2018, 11:00 AM to 01:00 PM


At nearly one-half million, Iranian Americans are the largest diasporic community outside of the homeland. Most came to the United States in the late 1970s as university students or refugees fleeing the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Being from a Muslim country that circumscribes women’s participation in the public sphere, it is facile to assume that Iranian-American women would have low civic and political engagement. This first quantitative sociological study of Iranian-American civic engagement analyzes data from 352 Iranian-American men and women who responded to the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans’ 2008 National Survey of Iranian Americans. Using correlation, negative binomial regression, and binomial logistic regression, the data reveals that although Iranian-American women excelled at joining interest groups, Iranian-American men and women mobilized nearly equally in most other acts of civic engagement. Iranian Americans are most mobilized by the experience of discrimination due to ethnic heritage, and by a belief that ethnic heritage is somewhat important in defining identity. However, those who believed ethnic heritage was very important had lower odds of civic engagement. The data supports the conclusion that Iranian-American men and women who identify with their ethnic heritage but also incorporate US culture have the greatest civic engagement and political participation.