The introduction lays the groundwork for the arguments made in the rest of the book. It maps out how, contrary to popular assumptions, some marginalized youth in Iran—termed the face-savers—are not a “generation in wait” prone to oppositional practices, but active agents who conform to social norms in an effort to change their lot in life. Through the repeated, daily practice of saving face, these youth increase public perceptions of their moral worth, which can subsequently lead them to gain incremental mobility within poverty. A historical overview of the interplay between state policies and struggles from below to make the most of life’s circumstances provides additional contextual detail of how the poor’s aspirations for the good life have been shaped by the perceived structures of constraints and opportunities that surround them. The introduction further provides a brief social history of the primary field site, Sari, Mazandaran, and incorporates details of the methodology of the study.
Keywords: face, accentuated conformism, social mobility, incremental mobility, resistance, aspirations, agency, moral capital, sari, Tehran