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All in a Day’s Work

All in a Day’s Work

(p.58) 2 All in a Day’s Work
Coming of Age in Iran
Manata Hashemi
NYU Press

This chapter examines the moral norms surrounding hard work and self-sufficiency. It discusses how work, particularly in the informal economy, is a means for some face-savers to become incrementally mobile and exercise agency. For young men, evidence of self-sufficiency and work ethic is key for proving their self-worth and masculinity to others. This push to be seen as “responsible enough” or “man enough,” in turn, stipulates the prioritization of jobs that pay relatively well over the status of the job. For young women, too, work is a means by which they can avert threats to their reputations and signal to others that they are doing well for themselves. Those young men and women who can demonstrate that they are self-sufficient hard workers are often the first to be incentivized by others. However, as such support is often limited, those youth who have certain preexisting qualities or resources—street smarts, family support, and risk-taking abilities—are able to climb the ladder much more easily than their counterparts who are not blessed with similar strengths and backgrounds.

Keywords:   hard work, self-sufficiency, informal work, masculinity, social capital, feminization of work, street smarts, family support, risk-taking

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