Introduction

In most of the societies known to anthropology, married couples live with or near the groom's or bride's kin. Since no existing society allows sex or marriage between brothers and sisters or between parents and children, some children when they grow up must leave their homes or home villages and move to their spouses' natal places of residence. But who leaves? There are only a few choices— females only leave, which we call patrilocal or virilocal residence; males only leave, which we call matrilocal or uxorilocal residence; females or males leave, which we call bilocal residence; both males and females leave, which we call neolocal residence; neither gender leaves, which we call duolocal residence. (Then, there is avuncu-local residence—see below.) These patterns of marital residence can have profound psychological consequences for the individuals involved, and for the social organization of the society, as we shall see. For example, the most common pattern of residence is patrilocal residence; the couple lives with or near the husband's parents. In a society with this pattern of residence, many if not all the males in the band or village are likely to be related to each other, but only some of the in-marrying women are likely to be related to each other. So an in-marrying woman not only has to deal with leaving her natal family, but she also has to deal with the fact that she is moving into a situation where the husband is surrounded by his kin, and her kin are somewhere else, sometimes far away. Minturn (1993, pp. 54-71) has published the text of a letter that one new Rajput bride sent to her mother shortly after marrying into her husband's village. The letter was written when the bride had been gone for 6 weeks. She repeatedly asked if her mother, her father, her aunts had forgotten her. She begged to be called home and said her bags were packed. She described herself as "a parrot in a cage" and complained about her in-laws. Seven years later the mother reported that the daughter was finally happy. But some other brides had serious symptoms of psychological distress—ghost possession, serious depression, or suicide after their marriages.

We know of no systematic research on the psychological state of in-marrying women, but the anecdotal evidence provided by Minturn and others points to considerable stress. Do men in matrilocal (uxorilocal) societies, where couples live with or near the wife's parents, have similar stress? We do not know. But there is reason to think that stress for men is not as serious in matrilocal societies because, as we shall see later, men in matrilocal societies usually do not move far away from their kin; indeed, they may merely move "across the street."

Because marital residence is the main predictor of the kinds of transfamily kin groups there may be, we first address what seems to explain the variation in marital residence patterns. Then we discuss what might explain the kinds of kin or descent group that may develop when people practice patrilocal, matrilocal, bilocal, or neolocal residence. We then briefly examine some unisex associations. We close with a brief look at some of the likely consequences of gender-based social organization.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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