The status of women in an Āzarbāyjāni village (Iran), with special reference to carpet manufacture
The thesis attempts to examine the general determinants of women's status in Doniq, a muslim village in North West Iran. The main theme of the study is the effect of development programmes and work on women's social position. As the result of recent developments in Iranian society, new income-generating work (carpet manufacture) has been introduced to Doniq. Carpet weaving is performed almost exclusively by women; and the income from it is of great importance to the society of Doniq. The present thesis, therefore, examines what impact carpet manufacture has made on women's status in Doniq. The first chapter provides a brief ethnography of the village. Then it explores in some detail the developments which have recently occurred in the social and economic organizations of Doniq, along with the forces which have affected these developments, resulting in the expansion of the carpet industry in the village. The second chapter places the small community of Doniq women in a wider context. A general set of theoretical concerns is examined to isolate those factors which are responsible for the perpetuation of the 'pardah system' and the seclusion of women in Doniq and similarly in many other muslim and non-muslim communities around the world. In this part of the study, special attention is paid to the question of whether or not Islam is the only factor controlling women's lives. The following three chapters (third, fourth and fifth) concentrate on the features of women's traditional work prior to the introduction of carpet weaving to Doniq: marriage, housework and fertility. In chapter three, emphasis is placed on the lack of control and influence a woman has over her own demeanour, sexuality, choice of marriage partner and marriage settlements. The restrictions wnich are imposed on women as brides urfcT wives in extendedand nuclear families are also discussed. Chapter four focuses on the organization and evaluation of 'housework'. The connection of 'housework' to the outside world; the time and energy required to perform 'housework'; the value people attach to it; and its importance to the perpetuation of family and society are examined. Chapter five explores the position of women in relation to their reproductive capabilities. The status a woman gains through the sex and number of her children and the control she exercises over her own fertility and children. The final chapter, after dealing with the history and organization of the carpet industry in Iranian society as a whole and especially in Doniq, the financial contribution which carpet making makes to families is discussed in detail. The work ends with the examination of the effect of women's new roles as carpet weavers on the various aspects of their traditional work discussed in the previous chapters. The study demonstrates that women's involvement in carpet manufacture has brought about some modifications in their status, but that in general the impact has been minimal. The tradition norms of 'honour' and 'shame' and other ideological values of the people are still powerful forces in restricting women's influence over their own lives and in community affairs.