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Virtue and Vice: Morality Police and Social Control in Islamic Regimes

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Certain states with religious systems of governance maintain and deploy morality police forces as a mechanism of social control. What role do morality police play in the social control programs of Islamic states How are those forces employed, and what are the effects of those forces on society These issues were explored through a comparative study of morality policing programs under three Islamic regimes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under the Taliban. This thesis argues that states with religious systems of government employ morality police as a formal method of social control to expand and stabilize their rule. Morality police forces enable the regime to project power into society and retain dominance by affirming religious legitimacy, suppressing dissent, and enforcing socio-religious and political uniformity. The examination of the selected cases further suggests that the tactics and operations of morality police have led to certain levels of domestic unrest. Despite some measures taken toward curbing the forces, regimes perceive them as too valuable for the preservation of society, religion, and political power to abolish completely.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Humanities and History

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