The discipline of sociology, as an officially funded area of research and teaching, was created in Iran five decades ago primarily as an instrument to help solve state problems. Today the state remains the main sponsor and client of sociological research. The absence of independent sources of research funding outside the government has left sociology dependent on state agencies and organizations. This situation has significant effects both on sociology and on the direction of policy-making in Iran. State-sponsored research is almost exclusively quantitative, narrowly problem-oriented, secretive and unable to offer concrete policy solutions. Lack of competition and the absence of non-governmental sources of funding have led to the marginalization of disinterested and fundamental research. Independent, critical sociology has always existed but it is in need of greater support. The situation in Iran is not unique: it reflects, in a magnified way, problems faced by sociologists in many other countries as they come under increasing pressures to undertake applied and policy-relevant research. The article concludes with five specific suggestions on how to improve the current state of sociological research.