Negotiating Middle-class Respectable Femininity: Bangladeshi Women and their Families

Hussein, Nazia (2017) Negotiating Middle-class Respectable Femininity: Bangladeshi Women and their Families. South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ), 16. pp. 1-21. ISSN 1960-6060

SAMAJ Hussein PDF.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (373kB)


Using qualitative data, this article explains how affluent urban and new middle-class women in Bangladesh reconstruct the notion of respectable femininity within the family. The normative conception of middle-class women’s respectability is measured against women prioritizing family above work by performing their domestic, care, and socializing roles and by maintaining moral propriety. Using Bourdieu’s theory of capitals and Lamont’s formulation of boundary work, I demonstrate that by reinstating class dominance, concealing unrespectable practices, evading their domestic work by co-opting others to do it, and maintaining a public display of socializing duties for the family, women can negotiate the boundaries of respectable femininity in Bangladesh. In so doing, women legitimize alternative forms of respectability in the family, which vary according to their age, profession and household setting. The paper shifts the focus of respectability research in South Asia from a binary construction of respectable and unrespectable practices to how women make and remake their respectable status and class privilege in neoliberal Bangladesh, and reflects on the implications for gender and class relations.

Item Type: Article
Date: 11 September 2017
Uncontrolled Keywords: women, respectability, family, middle-class, Bangladesh, Bourdieu
Subjects: L300 Sociology
L500 Social Work
L600 Anthropology
L700 Human and Social Geography
L900 Others in Social studies
T300 South Asian studies
T400 Other Asian studies
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Criminology and Sociology
REF UoA Output Collections > REF2021 UoA21: Sociology
Depositing User: Nazia Hussein
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2018 08:23
Last Modified: 23 May 2018 14:39

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


In this section...