Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

M. Ali Kadivar

M. Ali Kadivar

Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs


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 & Neil Ketchley. 2018. “Sticks, Stones and Molotov Cocktails: Unarmed Collective Violence and Democratization,” Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World 4: 1-16 [PDF][Supplemental Material].

Mohammad Ali Kadivar. 2018. “Mass Mobilization & the Durability of New Democracies.” American Sociological Review, 83(2): 390-417 [PDF][Supplemental Material].

Mohammad Ali Kadivar. 2017. “Preelection Mobilization and Electoral Outcome in Authoritarian Regimes.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly, 22 (30): 293-310 [PDF].

Mohammad Ali Kadivar & Neal Caren. 2016. “Disruptive Democratization: Contentious Events and Liberalizing Outcomes Globally, 1990-2004.” Social Forces 94(3): 975-996 [PDF].

Mohammad Ali Kadivar. 2013. “Perception Profiles, and Alliances in the Iranian Reform Movement, 1997-2005.” American Sociological Review, 78(6): 1063–1086 [PDF].

News|Recent News

Why haven't reformists joined the protests sweeping Iran? (written by Ali Kadivar)

January 5, 2018 The Washington Post

Postdoctoral Fellow Ali Kadivar in The Washington Post, "The current protest wave in Iran has already shaken the political landscape of the regime and society. Some younger activists in the mid and lower reformist ranks have suggested channeling this wave to make their own demands through street demonstrations organized by reformist parties."


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