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Classy kids and down-at-heel intellectuals: status aspiration and blind spots in the contemporary ethnography of Iran

Olszewska, Zuzanna (2013) Classy kids and down-at-heel intellectuals: status aspiration and blind spots in the contemporary ethnography of Iran. Iranian Studies, 46 (6). pp. 841-862. ISSN 0021-0862

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00210862.2013.810078

Abstract

This article reviews the ways in which class, status, social mobility and their cultural ramifications have been considered (or failed to be considered) in recent ethnographic studies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It argues against the trend of privileging “resistance” to an oppressive state as a theoretical frame for documenting social phenomena in Iran: lifestyles and consumption patterns cannot be interpreted merely as signs of political rebellion because they are endowed with symbolic value as status attributes in a society whose class configurations are shifting. I present a number of sources and concepts that help to rethink these phenomena, and show how the experience of Afghan refugees living on the margins of Iranian cities illuminates both the opportunities and constraints created by the Islamic Republic's uneasy mix of political Islam, populism and neoliberalism. A focus on aspiration to upward mobility becomes a useful analytical lens that allows us to sidestep reductive dichotomies such as tradition/modernity or religion/secularism that are in practice blurred by its very pursuit.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformati...
Additional Information: © 2013 International Society for Iranian Studies
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2013 13:29
Last Modified: 20 May 2020 02:49
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/51622

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