Professor of Sociology, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran
The present article has been prepared based on two field research studies undertaken to identify the vulnerable strata in rural areas of Iran’s Garmsar and Dasht-e Azadegan regions2. As will be demonstrated below, the findings of the two studies show that the development policies implemented during recent decades--policies emphasizing strategies of structural adjustment, liberalization, and privatization, especially in the agriculture sector--have not been effective in terms of preventing the creation and development of vulnerable strata in the rural community. However, prior to the studies that I and a team of researchers undertook beginning in the late 1990s, no research had studied systematically the impact of policies on low-income rural groups nor identified which groups constituted the vulnerable strata. In view of the government’s objective to support such groups, it is imperative first to identify them through sound scientific methods. This article, thus, represents an initial attempt to do just that.