During the Pahlavi period in Iran (1925–79), poor and working-class families were more likely to expect young sons to work to support the household. These boys, in turn, were more autonomous. Middle-class families, on the other hand, protected and controlled boys. Researchers have assumed that religious zealotry was the primary inspiration for boys to enlist in the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88) after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, ignoring the ways in which class inflected boyhood. While religious fervor may have been a motivation for some of the poor and working-class Iranian boys (between ten and fourteen) who enlisted, the expectation that they work took precedence. Moreover, at least some of these boys were eager to participate in war-front masculine homosociality rather than remain in feminized domestic spaces. This study analyzes biographies, census data, newspaper accounts, and original oral history interviews.

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