KINSHIP, FAMILY, AND THE INDIVIDUAL
In the late 1980s, social life and identity in Jordan centered
around the family. The household was composed of people related to
one another by kinship, either through descent or marriage, and
family ties extended into the structure of clans and tribes.
Individual loyalty and the sense of identity arising from family
membership coexisted with new sources of identity and affiliation.
The development of a national identity and a professional identity
did not necessarily conflict with existing family affiliations.
Although rapid social mobility strained kin group membership,
kinship units were sometimes able to adapt to social change.
Gender and age were important determinants of social status.
Although the systematic separation of women from men was not
generally practiced, all groups secluded women to some extent. The
character of gender-based separation varied widely among different
sectors of society; it was strictest among the traditional urban
middle class and most flexible among the beduins, where the
exigencies of nomadic life precluded segregation. However, the
worlds of men and women intersected in the home. Age greatly
influenced an individual man or woman's standing in society;
generally, attaining an advanced age resulted in enhanced respect
and social stature.
The formation of an educated middle class that included
increasing numbers of educated and working women led in the late
1980s to some strains in the traditional pattern. Men and women now
interacted in public--at school and in the universities, in the
workplace, on public transportation, in voluntary associations, and
at social events.
Data as of December 1989