55.1 Law, culture and driving habits in Iran

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 10:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Reza BANAKAR , Advanced Legal Studies, University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Iran has the highest rate of road traffic accidents (RTAs) worldwide. Iranian studies of the growing levels of RTAs are often conducted by medical doctors, who view them in light of the increase in the production and ownership of cars and the changed lifestyle of many Iranians, and discuss them in terms of pathology, morbidity and epidemiology. This paper argues that although the high levels of RTAs in Iran are new and reflective of the changing character of Iranian society, the habit of reckless driving is not. Using open and semi-structured interviews, it explores how Iranians describe their driving habits and experience RTAs. Placing the results of the interviews in the historical context of Iranian society, the paper goes on to examine driving as a form of behaviour with legal and cultural dimensions indicative of how Iranians interact with each other and with the normative structures of the legal system, the state and society to create a form of social order. Being mediated through the use of automobile, driving habits also throw light on how Iranians relate themselves to an aspect of modern technology. Thus, this study will treat Iranians’ driving habits as an empirical manifestation of one aspect of their legal culture, which is mediated through the technology of the automobile.

Co-author: Shahrad Nasrolahi Fard

Forthcoming in: British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (2012)

E-copy available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1871029