Brown University
International Relations
M. Ali Kadivar

M. Ali Kadivar

M. Ali Kadivar

Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs

Areas of Interest: Political change, democratization, social movements, comparative historical analysis, Middle East politics, Iran.


Mohammad Ali Kadivar is a postdoctoral fellow at Watson Institute. He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and earned a MA and BA in political science from University of Tehran in Iran. His work contributes to political and comparative-historical sociology by exploring the interaction between protest movements and democratization. This work grows out of his experience as a participant-observer of the pro-democracy movement in Iran, but his research agenda moves outward from this case to explore these issues on a global scale, using case studies, comparative-historical methods, and statistical analyses.

Kadivar’s research has been published in the American Sociological Review, and Social Forces, and has won awards from the Collective Behavior and Social Movement (CBSM)Comparative Historical SociologyGlobal and Transnational SociologySociology of Development, and Peace, War and Social Conflict sections of the American Sociological Association (ASA).


Kadivar uses multiple methods, including single-case studies, comparative-historical methods, and statistical analyses, to investigate the effect of pro-democracy movements on democratization.

In a paper that grew out of his master’s thesis, he used internal comparisons within a single case study to examine social movement failure through the lens of changing alliances. A second project turned to statistical methods and a global scope, finding that contentious collective action raises the chances of political liberalization. In his dissertation, he extended his research about the outcome of democracy movements to the durability of their achievements, asking whether mass mobilization during political transitions affects the survival of young democracies. Drawing on statistical analysis of original data collected on 112 young democracies over the past generation, as well as six extended case studies, he finds that the longer the mobilization, the more likely the ensuing democracy is to endure – largely because sustained movements are forced to develop an organizational structure that provides a leadership cadre for the new regime and strengthens post-transition civil society.


Mohammad Ali Kadivar. Forthcoming. “Pre-Election Mobilization and Democratization in Authoritarian Elections.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly.

Mohammad Ali Kadivar & Neal Caren. 2016. “Disruptive Democratization: Contentious Events and Liberalizing Outcomes Globally, 1990-2004.” Social Forces, 94: 975-996 (PDF).

Mohammad Ali Kadivar. 2013. "Alliances and Perception Profiles in the Iranian Reform Movement, 1997-2005," American Sociological Review, 78:1063-1086 (PDF).