State and Non-State Institutions in Contemporary Iran

This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals


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This paper is an attempt to assess the impact of NGOs on the consumption patterns of poor households in Iran, based on the gender of the recipient of the support. There is a vast literature on the differences in the expenditure patterns of women vs. men, suggesting that the household funds controlled by women, compared to the funds controlled by men, are typically spent more on the family’s nutrition, health, and human capital (Thomas 1993; Lundberg, Pollak, and Wales 1997; Haddad, Hoddinot, and Alderman 1997; Duflo 2012; Bobonis 2009). We propose to examine the significance and nature of this effect among the recipients of NGO support in Iran. To achieve this goal, we plan to select a group of about 20 NGOs offering social protection (SP) services in Iran and seek their cooperation in carrying out household income and expenditure surveys of samples of their support recipients. The surveys will rely on an extended version of the recent Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) questionnaires used by the Statistical Center of Iran and samples will be selected to ensure they include women and men, both as heads and non-heads of households. Half of the NGOs will be selected among those that target women and the other half will be those whose agendas are not gender specific. We then examine the types of beneficiaries being served by the two NGO categories and compare the expenditure patterns of their households with each other and with those obtained for similar groups by the HIES results. The project is expected to shed light on whether the households that receive support from NGOs are indeed potentially among the poorest, how their expenditure patterns vary from the non-recipients, and whether the gender of the recipient and her/his status as head of household matters in the way NGO support affects household expenditures.

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Social and political forces have always had a role in the development of a city and as the foci of these influences change, the resulting city fabric begins to portray a mélange of urban ideals; merging, contrasting, and overlapping, ultimately representing a discontinuous evolution of past principles. Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has gone through the same process of urban quilting but the resulting aesthetic is atypical due in part to the authoritative government's heavy hand in city planning as well as the lack of a true democracy rendering the public interest void. In this political environment, "urban ideals" are the sole representation of an autocratic interest but can also function as administrative securities in a system with personal financial precedence.
A product of the ideological moiety, the Navab Regeneration Project is a large-scale urban development plan which follows the neo-traditional ideals of the Pahvali era, remaining formally stagnant in design but functionally adjusted and distorted to support the financial ideals of the Islamic Republic. The overarching "urban ideal" currently in place, adopted from a past ideology, functions as a bureaucratic gate of control, adjusting to maximize governmental financial gain.
This paper addresses the quilted construction of multiple urban ideals that exists on top of a neo-traditional framework in the city of Tehran.