Advertisement

Substitution and Substitutability: The Effects of Kin Availability on Intergenerational Transfers in Malawi

  • Alexander A. Weinreb
Part of the International Studies In Population book series (ISIP, volume 3)

Although increasing analytic attention has been focused on intergenerational support structures of late, little of that attention has, thus far, been focused on the lateral components of those structures, by which I refer to relations among uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews, and so on. This is problematic from a broad sociological perspective for two main reasons. The first is that a relatively narrow focus on vertical intergenerational links overlooks the extent to which these microstructures are embedded in multidirectional and multigenerational support networks involving the elderly’s siblings, their nephews and nieces, other relatives, neighbours, friends, fictive kin, and so on. And the second is that, while the “structures of jural obligations” (Holy 1976: 108) which underlie intergenerational support structures may be associated with kin proximity measured in terms of closeness of blood ties—thus, for example, the common assumption that a given person has a greater obligation to provide assistance to his parents than to his uncles, aunts, or some unrelated individual—there is considerable ethnographic evidence that across many societies this is not the case; that individuals may have, and often do have, more intensive structured ties with second-order blood relations like uncles and aunts than with first-order blood relations like fathers; or indeed, that they may have more structured ties with non-kin (e.g., Whyte 1943;Wilmott and Young 1962; Stack 1974; Fox and Fox 1984; Lewis 1994; Griffiths 1997; Meriwether 1999; Feinberg and Ottenheimer 2002). In short, overlooking lateral intergenerational transfers relations implicitly privileges biology over culture and also ignores a key premise of multiple theoretical approaches to the analysis of exchange relations: the idea that these relations are both emergent product and producer of normative systems of social relations (e.g., Mauss 1925, 1990; Homans 1958; Blau 1964, 1986).

Keywords

Intergenerational Transfer Bilateral Exchange Maternal Uncle Maternal Aunt Relational Dyad 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Berheide, C.W. and Marcia, T. Segal. (1994), “Controlling less land, producing less food: The fate of female-headed households in Malawi.” In: Women, the Family, and Policy: A Global Perspective, Esther Ngan-ling Chow and Catherine White Berheide, eds. pp. 145-62. State U of New York Press: Albany.Google Scholar
  2. Blau, P.M. (1964/1986), Exchange and Power in Social Life. Wiley and Sons: New York.Google Scholar
  3. Brouwer, I. D., Hoorweg, J. C., and Marti J. van Liere. (1997), “When households run out of fuel: Responses of rural households to decreasing fuelwood availability, Ntcheu District, Malawi.” World Development, 25(2):255-266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Caldwell, J.C. (1982), A Theory of Fertility Decline. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. Collins, R. (2004), Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Coudenhove, Hans. (1926), My African Neighbors: Man, Bird, and Beast in Nyasaland. Little, Brown, and Company: Boston.Google Scholar
  7. Doctor, Henry V. (2001), “Changes in Life Expectancy in Malawi, 1977–1998.” Population Studies Center,University of Pennsylvania:Mimeo.Google Scholar
  8. Doctor, H.V. and Weinreb, A. A. (2005), “Mortality among married men in rural Kenya and Malawi.” Journal of African Population Studies. 20(2):165–177.Google Scholar
  9. Feinberg, R. and Ottenheimer, M. (ed.). (2002), The Cultural Analysis of Kinship: The Legacy of David M.Schneider. University of Illinois Press: Chicago.Google Scholar
  10. Fox, R. and Fox, R. (1984), Kinship and Marriage. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.Google Scholar
  11. Frazer, Donald. (1914), Winning a Primitive People: Sixteen Years’ Work Among the Warlike Tribe of the Ngoni and the Senga and Tumbuka Peoples of Central Africa. E.P. Dutton and Company: New York.Google Scholar
  12. Grieco, M. (1987), Keeping It in the Family: Social Networks and Employment Chance. Tavistock: London.Google Scholar
  13. Griffiths, Anne M.O. (1997), In the Shadow of Marriage: Gender and Justice in an African Community. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.Google Scholar
  14. Hirschmann, D. (1990), “Malawi’s ‘captured’ peasantry: An empirical analysis.” Journal of Developing Areas. 24(4):467–488.Google Scholar
  15. Holy, Ladislav. (1976), “Kin groups: Structural analysis and the study of behavior.” Annual Review of Anthropology, 5:107–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Homans, George C. (1958), “Social behavior as exchange.” American Journal of Sociology, 63:597–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnson, W.P. (1922), Nyasa, the Great Water: Being a Description of the Lake and the Life of the People. Oxford University Press: London.Google Scholar
  18. Kalipeni, E. (1996), “Demographic response to environmental pressure in Malawi.” Population and Environment, 17(4):285–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kaspin, D. (1995), “The politics of ethnicity in Malawi’s democratic transition.” Journal of Modern African Studies, 33(4):595–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lewis, Ioan M. (1994), Blood and Bone: The Call of Kinship in Somali Society. Red Sea Press.Google Scholar
  21. Malawi, Government of, and World Bank. (1998), Malawi AIDS Assessment Study. Blantyre and Washington: Government of Malawi and World Bank.Google Scholar
  22. Massey, Douglas S., Joaquin Arango, Graeme Hugo, Ali Kouaouci, Adela Pellegrino, J. Edward Taylor. (1993), “Theories of international migration: A review and appraisal.” Population and Development Review, 19(3):431–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mauss, M. (1925/1990), The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. W.W.Norton: New York.Google Scholar
  24. Meriwether, M.L. (1999), The Kin Who Count: Family and Society in Ottoman Aleppo, 1770–1840, University of Texas Press: Austin.Google Scholar
  25. Mitchell, J.C. (1956), The Yao Village: A Study in the Social Structure of a Nyasaland Tribe. University of Manchester Press: Manchester.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander A. Weinreb
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyHebrew UniversityHebrew

Personalised recommendations