The dimensions of family structure

get a glimpse of family life in rural Ireland in the Trobriand Islands and Israeli kibuttsah, we can be judged only on the three sets of family structures.However, sociologists and anthropologists have introduced a number of parameters, based on which it is possible to compare different family structures.This makes it possible to make generalizations about many societies.In this section we will look at six parameters.The relative frequency distribution of various family life is shown in Table.

Table Family structure in different societies

family form

term "affinity" refers to the totality of social relations based on certain factors.These include biological connections, marriage and legal norms, rules relating to adoption, guardianship, etc.The general system of kinship, there are two main types of family structure.

nuclear family consists of parents and adult children who depend on them.To many Americans, this type of family seems natural.

extended family (as opposed to the first type of family

structure) includes the nuclear family and many relatives, such as grandparents, grandchildren, uncle, aunt, cousins ​​and sisters.In most societies, the nuclear family is considered important, and perhaps the main social union.However, there are significant differences in the assessment of the role of the extended family as the foundation of social relations and mutual assistance and support of the guarantor.

marriage form

Among the Irish peasants, the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands and members of the Israeli kibuttsa there is one basic form of marriage.We are talking about monogamy - marriage between .odnim man and one woman.However, there is evidence of several other forms.Polygamy is called a marriage between one and a few other individuals.Marriage between one man and several women called polygyny;marriage between one woman and several men called polyandry.Another form is the group marriage - between several men and several women.

Perhaps you were surprised to learn that in most societies, polygyny is preferred.George Murdock (1949) studied a lot of companies and found that 145 of them there polygyny, monogamy prevailed in 40 and was observed in only two polyandry.The rest of the company did not meet any of these categories.As in most societies, male to female ratio is about 1: 1, polygyny is not widely spread, even in those societies where it is considered preferable.Otherwise, the number of unmarried men would have greatly exceeded the number of men with multiple wives.

What factors contribute to the predominance of one rather than the other forms of marriage?Some scholars have emphasized the importance of economic factors in certain societies.For example, the distribution of polygyny among reindeer herders in the Chukchi of northeastern Siberia due to the need to graze a herd of deer each separately for each flock needs a shepherd.It is believed that the man, grazing each stage requires several wives.One more example.In Tibet, the land belonging to the family, to be inherited by all the sons together.It is not divided into separate areas that are too small to feed a family for each brother.Therefore, brothers together using the land and have a common wife.

Of course, economic factors only partially explain the originality of various forms of family.The important role played by other factors.For example, polygyny advantageous for women in societies where many men die in war.Similarly, among the inhabitants of the tribe in southern India todasov (which reduces the number of women, as was the custom to kill born girls) also practiced so-called fraternal polyandry (the brothers have a common wife).British colonialists put an end to the practice of infanticide, and the number of women among todasov began to grow rapidly.However, pairing marriage and did not spread among todasov.Instead, the brothers, who previously would have had one common wife, began to establish some common wives.Thus in a society todasov there has been rarely observed tendency to group marriage.