Today he is an economist, historian, political scientist and literary critic specialized in Iranian studies. He has written a number of books on Iranian history, economy, culture and politics.
The Political Economy of Modern Iran is a well structured and written study into the economy and politics of a country with a rich, but troubled, legacy. This book is the result of a compression of a number of works into one single volume, thus giving the book an intensity usually attributed to journal articles. Katouzian condensed works together so that they could "offer a framework for the solution of past, present and future problems".2
Katouzian stresses that The Political Economy of Modern Iran is a study of Iranian 'politiconomic' development rather than an economic and political history of modern Iran or a historical study of the Iranian political economy (Katouzian 1981, 1). The book is divided into four distinct parts. The first part gives a broader historical and theoretical perspective on the topic, which is essential for understanding the book as a whole. The second part describes the period: 1921-41. This era began with the rise of Rez Khn and ended with the abdication of Rez Shah. These twenty years make up what Katouzian terms a 'despotic restoration' and he describes the full cycle of Pahlavi rule - the rise, fall and eventual collapse of 'pseudo-modernist despotism' (Katouzian 1981, 2). Part Three describes the end of the pseudo modernist regime, when the threat of disintegration hung over Iran after the period of war and its aftermath. Katouzian then goes on to describe Mohammed Mossadeq's democratic government within the context of the nationalization of oil. The fourth part of the book gives a descriptive analysis and evaluation of contemporary political and economic development. Katouzian suggests that a combination of ancient Iranian despotism, pseudomodernism of the third world and a historical agency of oil revenues have led to the current Iranian political economy system. (Katouzian 1981, 3)
Despotism is a continuing theme of Katouzian's work. Despotism is characterized by absolutism: dominance through threat of punishment and violence and dictatorship: a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator.3 Katouzian first describes Iranian despotism within the context of feudalism and development in the nineteenth century before outlining the 'despotic counter-revolution' of Rez Khn and Rez Shah. This is followed by a new form of dictatorship: 'pseudo-modernist despotism'. In later years, between 1961-79, a new form of absolutism arose: 'petrolic despotism'.
Katouzian describes the People's Revolution (1977-79) as an agent against despotism and pseudo-modernism, rather than a 'pan-Islamic faction'. The consequences of such absolutism were many: official lawlessness, political persecution, social injustice, economic mismanagement, financial corruption and bureaucratic arrogance. (Katouzian 1981, 354) However, Katouzian argues that another despotism arose in the ashes of the People's Revolution; that of the Pan-Islamic Dictatorship. The Pan-Islamists began their 'social reorganization' by trying to force women to