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Gender Role and Individual Modernity: An Exploratory Study in Microfinance and Gender Role Transformation


  • Habibul Haque Khondker


Using the sociological construct of individual modernity, this study explores the impact of microcredit on the attitudes, behaviors, values and aspirations of women in rural and peri-urban Bangladesh. Viewing future-orientation, individualism, equity, tolerance of diversity, rationality, as characteristics of modernity, this study examines trends towards individual modernity. This study combines both qualitative and quantitative methods and largely premised on the assumption of qualitative sociology where the focus of the study is an understanding of the phenomena and not establishing a cause-effect relationship between variables. The study used a household survey of pre-selected samples mostly drawn from rural and some selected periurban households in Bangladesh. Rural Bangladesh has come under the impact of various governmental as well as non-governmental development-intervention programs of which microfinance feature prominently. Hence, it is difficult to isolate the impact of microfinance in a precise fashion among the competing interventionist programs of governmental and nongovernmental organizations on changing attitudes and behaviors of the pondents. Yet, the study shows that the borrowers of microcredit have a slightly higher educational aspiration for their daughters’ education. In terms of beliefs in superstitions – another indicator of modernity - they are not indistinguishable from the non-borrowers. The respondents, were future-oriented, had high aspirations for their children’s’ education - both males and females - and were aware of the key developmental issues. They had opinion about intrusion of new technology in their communities and they articulated their opinions on both the positive and negative impact of such technologies as satellite television (so-called dish television) and mobile phones. A large number of respondents were not fatalists and believed that it was their actions and not fate that played the most important role in determining their future. The responses showed some underlying tendency towards rationalization of their world. Modern ideas seem to have affected the entire community. This study concludes that microcredit is one of the contributing factors towards creating a culture of modernity in both rural and peri-urban areas in Bangladesh.

Suggested Citation

  • Habibul Haque Khondker, 2014. "Gender Role and Individual Modernity: An Exploratory Study in Microfinance and Gender Role Transformation," Working Papers 29, Institute of Microfinance (InM).
  • Handle: RePEc:imb:wpaper:29

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