Who Benefits from Rural Change? A Study on the Nature of Social Status Uplifts in Rural Iran

Document Type: Research Paper


Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tehran University, Iran


Changing people social status, particularly upwardly, is often considered an indication of a government success in reaching a fair society, particularly in traditionally rigid structures. This is mainly possible through implementing development plan(s) which is theoretically assumed to result in wiping out traditional rigid structures. In the post-revolutionary Iran, the government took upon itself the responsibility of conscious planning of rural transformation to create just structures. For this purpose, since onset the government took a major step to put into practice various rural programs to develop rural areas – mostly with an ideologically populist approach. This paper aims to probe the fact that to some extent could the government rural programs abate the traditional rural structure and generate a state of openness for villagers to change their social status? To do this task, it focuses on the occupational status of villagers, as an indication their positional change, through using survey method in the selected villages. The findings showed that the mobility tended to be higher in the villages that received the most rural programs than those which received fewer or no programs. Nevertheless, a higher tendency was observed towards self-recruitment in intra-generational mobility compared with intra-generational mobility. The examination of the nature of status change indicated that, firstly most of the observed mobility, both upward and downward, was short range and oriented towards the adjacent category, meaning not deep-seated change; secondly, status change in the villages was uneven, meaning that the government rural policies have not identically benefited both villages and villagers.