Iran

By Clifford R. Barnett; Wendell Blanchard et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
AVAILABILITY AND USE OF MANPOWER

In the Iranian hierarchy of values, two types of endeavor are given great respect: intellectual endeavor and skilled workmanship. Accordingly, the two groups engaged in these enterprises (the intellectual and professional men, including those in the civil service, and the artists and highly skilled industrial workers) enjoy preferred status.

Agriculture, handicrafts, small commercial enterprises, the civil service, and the professions have traditionally been and still remain the main fields of labor in Iran, but modern industry is now making some headway. Overlapping of occupations is common. An artisan may be a businessman as well; a large landlord may serve as government official or army officer; and a master artist may own a shop employing twenty or thirty apprentices.

There is some inheritance of occupation. An artisan's son will probably follow his father's craft. A shah's first son is born to become shah. Minor bureaucrats feel some right of succession. Within this web of work, each man has his satisfactions and personal sense of dignity. Even the beggar justifies himself: it is written that the need of the giver to give is great.

Apart from government officialdom, the most influential group in Iranian urban life is the commercial and business class. It is composed of many individual traders, small moneylenders, owners of businesses employing only two or three workers and managers and professional assistants in the growing number of modern commercial concerns. A large proportion of the urban working class is self-employed, approximately half of those engaged in handicraft and commerce, and virtually all professional men outside the government. A considerable number of the employees are sole assistants, and hence enjoy a quite different status from that of workers in

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