The Impact Of Societal Change
The rapid shift within Bedouin-Arab society from a nomadic to a sedentary life in the last three decades of the twentieth century has resulted in sweeping social, economic, and political changes (Al-Krenawi 2000; Hana 1984). Bedouin men have left the traditional economic pursuits that kept them dependent on their families; Bedouin women have joined the labor force outside the home; and men and women both are becoming increasingly educated.
As of the end of the twentieth century, these changes have not substantially affected the values or the structure of the Bedouin family. Bedouin society remains a high context society, which means that it tends to emphasize the collective over the individual, and has a slower pace of societal change and greater social stability (Al-Krenawi 1998a). Thus, for example, despite the increased education of Bedouin women and their entry into the labor force, their social status in the home remains subordinate (Al-Krenawi 1999).
The changes, however, are opening up the once closed Bedouin family and giving rise to tension and conflicts. Sons and daughters who watch television and go to school are more exposed to the modern world than are their elders. When they bring home modern ideas, whether of freedom, self-expression, or dress, they often meet with strong disapproval and punishment. Young Bedouin are increasingly caught between the social demands for conformity to the community and family norms with which they were raised and their desire to pursue their own personal goals and aspirations. The price of the pursuit of self-actualization may be well be reduced family support and increased social isolation (Al-Krenawi 1998b).
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