Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Casual Friday Forever? or
Putting the Kibosh on Couture

Looking at the news today I read a brief article about Iran’s leader President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran Leader Plays Down War Talk) and I noticed he wasn’t wearing a tie. I had heard it mentioned in casual conversation that Iran wasn’t keen on ties as they were a symbol of Western decadence. Was this coffee conversation true? (-and what's up with the fella on the right; is he crazy or something!? -Quick! Take off the tie!)

First Stop: Web search for information that is primarily unverifiable, but ‘good enough’.
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necktie mentions (down the page near the bottom) that there is an “extreme anti-necktie sentiment” in the country of Iran, but there is also a ‘citation needed’ note. This means the statement is unverified.

Pros: easy and quick
Cons: who wrote this? is it realiable and fact-based?

Second Stop: General coverage database for information that may not be scholarly, but is likely to be credible.
Academic Search Premiere (my search for iran and neckties) yielded a couple of interesting notes.
Michael Theodoulou of the Christian Science Monitor (7/12/2001) notes that neckties had been drummed out in the late 1970s following the revolution, but in 2001 were making a careful comeback. However, Andrew Higgins in the Wall Street Journal (5/12/2007) reports that not only are neckties out again, you can be punished for wearing one.

Pros: Some facts and I can check up on the author and when it was written.
Cons: Is it scholarly? What are their sources of information?

Third Stop: Specific database for scholarly information and verification.
Encyclopedia of Islam: probably not the right place to look for social commentary, but I tried anyway. Zero results. -Don't give up, it is all part of the search.

JSTOR: This database has a variety of subjects and heavy on the scholarly works. There were a few misses, but I found a definitive (and brief) description on p362 of Revolutions, Samurai, and Reductions: The Parodoxes of Change and Continuity in Iran and Japan by Fathali M. Moghaddam and David S. Crystal in Political Psychology, (Jun., 1997). This article was by far the most interesting of the lot since it had a great deal of depth and commentary whereas the other searches yielded mostly matter-of-fact reports.

Pros: Really great in-depth info and scholarly too! Lots of citations, lots of credibility.
Cons: Maybe too focused for my needs to verify a casual conversation fact?


So wearing a necktie in Iran probably isn't a good idea these days, but don't throw them away -you may be able to bring them out again after a while. Your results may vary, but this is a good way to go about research. Look for the quick information first and then wend your way to the scholarly and credible.

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