Dressed for Success: Hegemonic Masculinity, Elite Men and Westernisation in Iran, c. 1900-40

Sivan Balslev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


From the late-nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century, men of an emerging Western-educated Iranian elite utilised knowledge, practices and objects originating from Western countries to reach and preserve a hegemonic position in their society. This goal was supported by the formation of a new model of Iranian hegemonic masculinity, which adopted and adapted such Western imports. This article follows the appropriation of Western knowledge and education, along with Western clothes and manners, and explores how these became essential components of a new hegemonic masculinity in Iran. It also describes the criticism this model of masculinity met from conservative segments of society and the manner in which men of the Western-educated elite dealt with this - by giving new meanings to the criticism and redirecting it towards non-elite men. Thus, men of the Western-educated elite appropriated 'correct' westernisation and excluded non-elite men from it and from the new model of hegemonic masculinity. The new model was further promoted during the reign of Reza Shah (1926-41), when dress laws enforced Western attire upon all Iranian male citizens, a move which entrenched the social and political hegemony of westernised men as well.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationGender, Imperialism and Global Exchanges
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781119052173
ISBN (Print)9781119052203
StatePublished - 27 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


  • Cultural production
  • Hegemonic masculinity
  • Iran
  • Male beauty
  • Western-educated elite men


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