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Entangled between tradition and modernity: the experiences of Bhutanese working women

Kandy Dayaram (Curtin University, Perth, Australia)
David Pick (Curtin University, Perth, Australia)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Article publication date: 22 June 2012




The purpose of this article is to examine the shifting roles of Bhutanese women in employment and family as they navigate tensions between tradition and modernity.


To achieve greater understanding of the experiences of the women in this research, a theoretical framework dubbed a “matrix of entanglements” is developed and tested through the analysis of qualitative interview data from 38 Bhutanese working women. In doing so the ways in which these women reconcile competing demands on their personal resources are assessed.


It is found that the women are experiencing entanglements as they negotiate western endogenous modernity, an emerging “Bhutanese modernity”, and traditional social, cultural, economic and political patterns.

Research limitations/implications

While this research is limited to a single nation, it demonstrates the potential usefulness of applying a “matrix of entanglements” as an analytical tool. In conducting the analysis, questions are raised about genuine development as opposed to new globalized circumstances that seem to serve the purposes of powerful economic and political groups inside and outside Bhutan rather than broader society.

Practical implications

The analysis has illuminated the extent to which the Bhutanese “mid‐way” economic/cultural policy goals may be compromized by global influences beyond the control of state actors.


This paper presents a new way of conceptualizing the problems confronted by working women in developing nations as they try to reconcile the competing demands of tradition and modernity.



Dayaram, K. and Pick, D. (2012), "Entangled between tradition and modernity: the experiences of Bhutanese working women", Society and Business Review, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 134-148.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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