HCCW: Digitizing Production of Carpets and Tiles: Social Media, Design/Decorative Economy, and the Changing Notions of Work in Post-Revolutionary Iran

Babak Rahimi
UC San Diego

Despite high unemployment (as high as 34%) and a major fall in the value of its currency in 2012, due to U.S.-led sanctions, Iran’s weakening economy is increasingly embracing new media for economic activities in the design economy with the aim for reaching out to the global market. The use of social media sites like Facebook and other Persian social sites is providing new ways for young, educated Iranians, mostly of middle-class background, to organize, collaborate and compete despite increasing state regulations over the Internet. Social media has now become a powerful medium for building new business models with an emphasis on employing and adopting new labor practices in mostly the carpet and tile industries for consumption in Western European (e.g. Italy) and East Asian (e.g. China) markets. But the study also showed how the laborers too, mostly from rural in provinces such as Kashan, Kerman, Isfahan and Tabriz, are also using new media, in particular mobile and Internet technologies to create networks and labor solidarity across the country, and even abroad among diaspora worker communities in Dubai and other major economic centers in the Middle East.