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Title:Conceptions of collaterality in modern Europe: Kinship ideologies from companionship to trusteeship
Author(s):Baker, David Joseph
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Southwood, Kenneth
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Abstract:Models of collaterality derived from historical accounts of intestate law, prohibitions on marriage, and socioeconomic sources seem useful for studying the interrelationship between family and society in four European countries (Austria, Finland, Germany, and Ireland). Some kinship models are ego-focused and are consistent with companionate marriage, dual career families, ties to contemporaries, relatively low fertility, lower socioeconomic status, and ideological universalism. Still other conceptions emphasize line of descent (or ascent) and transmission of symbolic family estate. These kinship orientations support the special interests of religion, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, view marriage as a contract between spouses and a unity of affines, regard the maternal role as especially salient, and have comparatively higher economic and occupational standing. Moreover, these corporate kinship orientations seem to be associated with the degree to which pluralism is an important criterion in the structuring of society.
The operation of this dialectic in Europe (and the United States) implies that family and kinship retain their corporate descent group identities in some sectors of urban societies, whereas more personal criteria predominate in other parts of the same populations. Claims made by the great majority of social observers about the "decline of kinship and family" in contemporary industrial society are shown to be vastly overdrawn. Instead, corporate kin groups have both an ideological and existential status in modern societies which duplicates the corporate features of classical descent groups in native ones. Emphasis on line-of-descent is found to be a stronger characteristic of corporate kinship structure in Europe than in the United States (where line-of-ascent predominates).
Two models of family polarize 25 European countries (and Israel and the Soviet Union). In the far North in the Soviet Union and Sweden, domestic law adheres to a "legal-family" model found in earlier research to underlie Western and Midwestern U.S. law. Given that competing modes of kinship organization are empirically evident among respondents in Europe, and given that legal codes take them into account in a predictable way, the question for social policy is whether to adopt a single legal-family strategy for Europe, (that does not accomodate corporate kinship concerns, but which invites State management of the domestic arena), or to allow several ideologies to co-exist (with minimal State involvement in kinship life-worlds). (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Baker, David Joseph
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9215773
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9215773

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