This is an explorative study about single and married professional elite Jordanian women's
(PEJW's) lives during the first two years of the reign of King Abdullah II (1999-2001).
Professional elite women are a recent addition to the paid labour force. PEJW arc situated
precariously within three contradictory discourses: liberal-secular, conservative and Islamist.
Each discourse wants to assert its notion of modernity, its brand of socio-politico-economic
development, and its ideals of social morality. These discourses place differing demands on
PEJW. Furthermore, each discourse manipulates the concepts of Islam, Arab nationalism,
Arab-Islamic identity, cultural authenticity, family honour, and women's position in society
as they vie for superiority. This study examines the delicate balance single and married
women have to maintain as they act on their own self-interests while navigating between
their home and work life. The study underscores the point that women remain mindful of
their connective status in relation to their family, and that, by virtue of their gender, they
personify honour. Drawing on theoretical approaches that attempt to resolve the agency structure debate, this study examines women's agentic action as they stretch the boundaries
of local notions of honour in order to maintain an honourable positioning within society.
This means PEJW shape and are shaped by the discourse of honour, and in the process they
define for themselves what it means to be honourable modern professional Jordanian
women. The study concludes that when examining the agentic action of Jordanian women,
agency should not be based on the liberal concept of the autonomous individual, but rather
on an alternative model of individualism that considers women's connectivity with their