Mary Elaine Hegland
(Santa Clara University)
Paper Short Abstract:
Many people in an Iranian settlement, well-off from real estate from the 1962 land reform, are now frustrated in hopes for more materialism and (especially for females) companionate marriages. They wish to leave Iran, believing emigration will provide them with their desires for social mobility.
Paper long abstract:
People in an Iranian settlement, after becoming well-off from land turned into real estate by the 1962 America-pressured land reform, gained urban-style, higher standards of living. Men, instead of living as share-croppers and low-level itinerate traders like their fathers, took up work as entrepreneurs and urban workers. Most people moved away from their mud-brick homes of rooms around a courtyard in the walled village into urban-style, fired brick nuclear family homes with a private front courtyard, and were able to live much like middle class urbanites with telephones, cell-phones, TV and internet, modern kitchens and home shower rooms. Secondary and even higher education increased, especially among females, widening their worlds, and among many increasing their aspirations for companionate marriages. With exposure to education, lives of earlier emigrants, global communications, and Aliabadis who moved to Shiraz, expectations for urban, upper-middle class, prosperous living styles grew, and when frustrated by the economic downturn of the last decade, has turned into bitter dissatisfaction among many. By fall 2015, many men and even some women talked about their desires to leave Iran, believing that emigration would solve their problems and provide them with their desired social mobility of life style, standards of living, and (for females especially) relationships transformed by modernity. This paper is based on anthropological participant observation in the rural village of "Aliabad," now a suburb of Shiraz, for some three years between 1978 and 2015, and also with some people of Aliabad who have migrated to Shiraz, Sweden, and Turkey.
Social mobility in the neoliberal age: practices, relations, expectations, and desires