Sara Faez


University of Kassel (UKS, Germany)

Research Cluster


PhD Project Title

Poverty reduction in Iran: Islamic Post Development?


This research is generally concerned with poverty alleviation programs in Iran and their religious and ideological roots in order to gain a proper understanding of the ideological inconsistencies of these programs in the context of post-development theory by analyzing the content of six Comprehensive Development Plans of development programs in Iran. Post-development is one of the major controversies following the "failure of development plans" (widely agreed by this group of researchers) in the academic world of social sciences and political science and development studies. A gap in the existing literature of post-development is that most of these studies have been conducted in Latin America, Africa and India and so far, no comprehensive research has been conducted in Iran. Also, the focus of post-development scholars is generally on social movements and NGOs. The movements, according to these researchers, play an important role in live in poverty, repression, and discrimination in the "Global South" countries. Unlike much of the previous literature, this research examines the link between Islamic teachings and poverty alleviation programs to determine whether poverty reduction programs in Iran that are mostly inspired by Islamic concepts and ideas - at least at the level of the goals mentioned in the Six Comprehensive Development Plans - have been successful examples of reducing poverty or not, and to what extent are these programs in line with the post-development theoretical framework.

Poverty in Iran has different manifestations: from homelessness to child labor, dumpster diving and grave sleeping (Goor-Khabi). Iran is a religious society and many of the laws and regulations that underpin poverty reduction programs are based on Islamic and Shia concepts. Even beyond that, some organizations and institutions have also been formed in this regard, the most prominent of which is the relief foundation (Emdad Committee). These organizations are directly responsible for poverty alleviation in Iran and have been formed in the years after the Islamic Revolution. Despite the numerous plans of poverty reduction in Iran, based on previous researches still in some areas of Iran, part of the population is under the extreme poverty line. On the other hand, development programs that were pursued before and after the revolution are generally imported and have not been totally successful. Adopting idealistic and normative views on the issue of poverty in Iran has made this subject a complex and multidimensional problem which requires many researches and studies. Although most researches in this field are unfortunately limited to the economic dimensions of poverty (including the determination of the poverty line) and the social and political consequences of poverty, what needs to be more clarified is the link between this issue and the religious and ideological foundations of poverty reduction in the context of the Islamic society of Iran which has been less studied. In this regard, this study is distinct from other studies carried out and can shed a light on poverty reduction programs in Iran by highlighting the various dimensions of these programs, identifying their shortcomings and deficiencies. This study uses a qualitative method to analyze and collect data.

Educational Background

Professional Experience

  • May 2016–2018: Social work professional: Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society [IAPSRS] (Society of Students Against Poverty), Tehran (Iran)

  • Apr 2016– Dec 2018: English Instructor, Safir branch Institute, Tehran (Iran)
     Part time English teacher in Elementary, Intermediate and Upper Intermediate level

  • Jul 2016–Aug 2016: Questionnaire of the Census Group, Statistical centre of Iran, Ministry of Interior, Tehran (Iran)

  • Oct 2012–Sep 2014: Student Assistant: Faculty of social sciences, University of Tehran

  • May 2013–Sep 2013: Research Assistant and Questionnaire, Tehran Municipality, Tehran (Iran)

Social / Political Activities

  • PhD Associate Fellow in Global Partnership Network (GPN) University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany

  • Affiliate member of Iranian Sociological Association (ISA) in the following Research Groups (RGs): Sociology of Poverty, Welfare, and Social Policy Research Group


  • DAAD scholarship, Research Grant, Doctoral Programmes in Germany 2021-2022
  • DAAD scholarship, Research Grant, Doctoral Programmes in Germany 2020-2021
  • DAAD scholarship on The Third NAREM Seasonal School "Renewable Energy and Development" Summer School (August 2017)
  • Special Talents [Este'dad-ha-ye Derakhshan] award during BA studies at University of Tehran (2010) Due to the university entrance exam rank (260 among all the participants)