Country Listing

Jordan Table of Contents



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