Families are central to the exploration of self and society of primary students. One of the aims of most teachers in this area is to diversify students' understanding of what a family is. In the interests of including different Australian lifestyles, the meaning of family in the classroom can include significant others who are not relatives. When being inclusive of Asia, teachers introduce the idea of extended families -- meaning more than a nuclear family -- and often make this a point of contrast with the families students are familiar with. Both these ways of categorising families have the value of being student-centred. But they different from the way the concept of the family is explored by social anthropologists. A look at how anthropologists classify families brings back into the picture ways of understanding family as it functions to maintain the social structures of a particular community. A study of marriage, inheritance and succession relationships in particular throws a lot of light on the different statuses of male and female in communities, as well as on authority relations between parents and children. Views of gender relationships in Asia dominate many people's perceptions of the region, so it is valuable to examine some of the core structures influences on the way male and female are statused. The following (abridged) excerpt from Grant Evans' Asia: A Cultural Mosaic provides a coverage of the different types of families in communities in Asia still influenced by traditional practices. It is a long reading, providing explanatory vignettes of the interaction between family and society in different regions of Asia. It is intended as an archive for teachers who may want background for introducing students to studies of the intersections between family systems and society. The excerpt ends with some useful ways of thinking about the way change occurs to such fundamental structures as the family. The influences on families -- on the family structures described here -- of change from traditional to modernised environments is taken up in Module 3 on Modern Asian Nations.
Grant Evans: Asia's Cultural Mosaic
Anthropological Vocabulary for Discussing Families
One reason why discussing the family in cross-cultural contexts can be confusing is that the word for "family" in most languages .. has more than one meaning. In English the term "family" can mean the "group of kin with whom I live and share a budget", but it can also refer simply to "my close relatives", (some of whom I live with now, some of whom I used to live with, and some of whom I may never have lived with). This ambiguity in the meaning of the word for family is not confined to English. In Korea, where vocabulary to describe kinship is much more highly developed than in English, the colloquial term for family, chiban, can also refer either to the members of a delimited corporate family (known legally as the ka), to a minimal lineage, or to one's close relatives generally. The reason for this ambiguity lies in the nature of human life cycles. The family in which one is born and raised, or birth family, is commonly different from the new family created upon adulthood and marriage, or marital family. As an adult, one may call both one's birth and marital families simply as "family" even though one may no longer reside with, or even legally belong to, one's birth family. Because the culturally specific, or emic, definition of the family varies from society to society, these ambiguities multiply when we try to compare families cross-culturally. To reduce the potential for misunderstanding in cross-cultural comparison and facilitate scientific, or etic, description, anthropologists have restricted the definition of some terms and have invented a number of technical terms.
Family and Household
A common-sense definition of the family is "a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation, and reproduction" (Murdock, 1949:1) but as we noted above, the people who live together and cooperate economically may not all be family members (as when servants live in the house), while some family members may live separately ;as when children live away from home to go to school, or when individual family members have jobs in a different place from the main family residence! Anthropologists call task-oriented residential groups households, reserving the term family for groups defined by marriage and descent (Netting, Wilk, and Arnould, 1984:xx). Distinguishing family and household is useful for understanding some family systems, but it must be remembered that when dealing with specific societies, the unit to which both of these terms refer is culturally defined; each society has its own definition of family and/or household.
Types of Family
Families are classified in a number of ways, but the most useful for comparative anthropological purposes is based on number and type of marriages. Simple families are composed of no more than a single married couple (or a widow or widower) and their unmarried children. Sometimes known as nuclear families, or conjugal families, simple families may be extended by the addition of other unmarried kinsmen (grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles), but they remain simple so long as only one currently active marriage is involved (Laslett, 1972:28-31). Complex families include more than one marriage and can be further divided into three types: stem, joint, and polygamous. Stem families include two or more married couples, no two of whom are of the same generation. The most common example is a married couple and one married child, though it is possible for a stem family to include in addition one married grandchild. Like stem families, joint families are also composed of two or more married couples, but in this case at least two of the couples must be of the same generation. The most usual example is the family of married siblings, but it is also common for a large family to be composed of married parents and two or more married children. This, too, is a form of joint family. Polygamous families are those in which at least one of the married persons has more than one spouse. There are two types of polygamy: polygyny, in which an individual man marries more than one woman, and polyandry in which a woman marries more than one man. Both types of marriage are found in Asia - sometimes even in the same family - but in Asian societies, polygyny and/or polyandry are usually options taken up by a small proportion of the wealthy or childless in complex family systems rather than separate systems in their own right. Each of these types of family may be further subdivided by the type of kinship reckoning, post-marital residence, inheritance, and succession. These further distinctions will be explained in more detail as we discuss concrete cases below.
Observers sometimes have tried to characterize whole family systems based on the statistical frequency of the various family forms. Since a family often changes its form through the phases of the family cycle, however, this by itself is an unsatisfactory procedure. A host of circumstantial factors, too, can affect the form a family takes at any particular time including: (1) demographic considerations, such as how long people live and how many children they have, (2) how much property they have, (3) how much labour they need on a family farm or for a family business, and (4) what level of status they are trying to maintain. These considerations make the classification of family form, and assessment of the significance of that form, more complicated than is sometimes recognized. Because studies of pre-revolutionary Chinese villages found simple families to be statistically most common, for example, some have questioned the characterization of the ordinary Chinese peasant family as complex (Levy, 1949:59-60). When one studies Chinese families in terms of their family cycle, however, it turns out that even if the majority of peasant families at any one time are simple, most families go through a complex phase for at least part of their family cycle (Wolf, 1984:281), so it is correct to consider the Chinese family cycle as a whole a complex one.
The Lineal, Corporate Families of East and South Asia
The civilizations of Asia, like those of traditional Europe, have been founded on plough culture, a highly productive type of cropping system using ploughs and draft animals on permanent fields. The basic unit of production has usually been the peasant household. In these complex civilizations, differential access to limited land is correlated with great variation in wealth and status. Acquiring and transmitting control over property, and maintaining efficient productive households have been central family concerns. Corporate families have proved to be resilient and successful adaptions to these circumstances.
As Fortes has noted (1978:17), the notion of "corporateness" has sometimes been used to designate any bounded group. Here, however, we shall use a strict definition with four criteria that apply not simply to corporate families, but to any type of corporation (including modern industrial enterprises): ( 1 ) defined membership boundaries, (2) corporate property or an estate, (3) a head, and (4) succession.
Unlike the ambiguous Anglo-American notion of "family" alluded to above, corporate families have defined boundaries. One can say precisely which corporate family each person belongs to, and one may belong to one and only one corporate family. In Taiwan and South Korea the state even maintains family registers that list precisely who is, and who is not, a member of each corporate family. One reason the boundaries of corporate families are carefully maintained is that family membership usually confers property rights. In Maharashtra in central India, for example, the residents of a household are classified into "owners" and "guests". Only the "owners" are full members of the corporate family with claims on the family estate (Carter, 1984:46).
Each corporate family has a head with specific rights and duties. Frequently, though not always, the head is the father of the family, but headship is a social role rather than a personal attribute of an individual. This can be seen in the practice of succession, that is, taking on a social role at the retirement or death of the former incumbent of that role. When succession takes place the person exercising the rights and duties of a role changes, but the role itself (conceived of as a bundle of rights and duties) stays the same. Just as when a king dies, a new king succeeds to the office of kingship, when a house head dies or retires in a corporate family, a new person succeeds to the position. The family as a social institution can thus be maintained forever, in theory at least, so long as successors to the most important family roles - especially family head - can be found. Individual family members are born, married, and die, but the family itself goes on.
All Asian families are not corporate in this full sense. The Javanese, for example, have families that, though corporate in the sense of a property-holding group, lack clear boundaries, headship and succession to family roles. The Javanese recognize kinship through both the mother and father, so their system of kinship reckoning is bilateral. Children often live with the wife's parents for several months until a marriage is seen as stable, but there is no formulated rule for residence with kin after marriage, and each child is expected to quickly set up a household separate from that of his or her parents. Anthropologists call this neolocal (neo = new, local = place) post-marital residence. According to Islamic Law, sons are supposed to inherit twice what daughters do, but the folk idea among Islamic Javanese is for equality between sons and daughters. Inheritance thus can be said to be equal and partible among all children, though anthropologists have found great flexibility in inheritance arrangements (C. Geertz, 1961:471.) Divorce is quite common - ending nearly half of all marriages - and non-nuclear kin often foster (care for without adopting) children, especially those of sisters. Household composition thus tends to show a great deal of flux over the family cycle without affecting formal family membership. Complex households are not uncommon in Java, comprising almost 9 percent of one sample (C. Geertz, 1961:32), but because of the non-corporate character of the Javanese family system, these complex families tend to be created because of economic convenience rather than to preserve a particular family cycle.
Such non-corporate family systems are widespread in insular Southeast Asia, being found among the Christian Ilocano of the Philippines as well as the Muslim Javanese. They are also found among the peninsular Malays (except for matrilineal Malays of the state of Negri Sembilan mentioned below). The nuclear families of the peninsular Malays are often extended to include unmarried, divorced, or widowed kin - particularly kin on the wife's side - but two or more intact couples rarely share the same budget (Firth, 1943:9) even if they live in the same house. What look like complex households made up of more than one married couple often turn out to be economically separate families who merely share living quarters. As in Java, complex households are agglomerations of convenience rather than regular creations of a corporate family cycle with succession to household roles.
The typical family cycle of non-corporate families, then, involves the formation, and eventual dissolution with death of the parents, of each family in each generation. Widowed parents can be brought into children's houses for care in old age, but since they enter their child's family after it has already created an independent existence through neolocal residence, parents lack the authority they would have in corporate families in which they may not yet have passed family headship on to the next generation. The careful maintenance of family boundaries and concern with maintaining continuity over time through succession characteristic of corporate family systems is also absent. Property and social roles tend to be held by individuals rather than the family as a unit, and children do not succeed to roles in their birth family, but form new families when they reach adulthood. When parents die, then, their families die with them. Their legacy may be maintained through the families of their children, but these are new families rather than continuations of the parents' original family. A non-corporate family cycle, then, consists of the dying out of old families and creation of new families in each generation, whereas in corporate family cycles, although new families die out or are created in each generation, most families are continued through succession.
Joint Family Systems
China has one of the best studied and understood of the Asian corporate family systems. The Chinese corporate family, called the jia, is a bounded group of members related by descent, marriage, or adoption. The corporate nature of the jia can be seen in the fact that each member belongs to one and only one jia, the property of the jia belongs to the members in common, and the income of all jia members is pooled to meet family needs. The jia is normally headed by the eldest male member, known as the jiazhang, who represents the family to the outside (in contracts, for example). In most cases the family head also manages the pooled assets of the family. In extremely complex families, however, another male or female member talented in economic matters might, as dangjia, manage family financial affairs. The jia can be large or small, and whether it takes nuclear, stem, joint or some other form depends upon how the family has managed its developmental cycle. This corporate family characterized pre-revolutionary China (changes since 1949 will be dealt with later) and continues today as an important form in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Let us turn, then, to a hypothetical jia as it develops over time.
We can begin our hypothetical jia with a newly married couple in an independent family. As children are born, this couple develop a nuclear family. The family remains nuclear until the children are ready to marry. As succession in the Chinese family is normally patrilineal (from father to son along the male line), the favoured form of marriage for the Chinese is patrilocal (pater = father, local = place, that is, the bride leaves her natal family and joins the family of her husband who usually has not yet partitioned from his birth family. This move is both a physical move from one house to another and a legal change of membership from one corporate family to another. From the point of view of their birth family, then, marriage of daughters involves their legal and physical departure. Though daughters visit and maintain other contacts with their birth family, they are now members of their husband's jia and, having received a dowry, have no further claim on the property of their birth jia. The marriage of sons, on the other hand, brings daughters-in-law into the jia. With the marriage of the first son, the family assumes stem form. From the marriage of the second son, the family attains joint form.
Chinese joint families often have a true division of labour with the common economy being maintained even if all family members do not live in the same place. Sons work together in the fields under the direction of their father. Daughters-in-law living in a joint agricultural household might, under the direction of their mother-in-law, rotate among themselves the responsibility for cooking for the whole joint family so that the other daughters-in-law can be freed for agricultural labour, or even factory work (Cohen, 1976:139-48). Sometimes these joint families diversify, with one son using family assets to open a business in town, but the family economy remains joint. As Yang noted of a village in pre-revolutionary Shandong Province:
In an old fashioned family, the kind which predominates in Taitou, everyone works or produces for the family as a whole, be he a farmer, a mason, a cloth weaver, a merchant or what not. It goes without saying that those who work on the family's farm work for the whole family. Any earning made in special trades also belongs to the family. If someone keeps a part of his wages, he will be condemned by the family head and suspected by all the other members of the family as being untrustworthy. A merchant who has to do his business outside may spend what he has made for his living expenses and according to his own judgement, but he must turn over all the rest and report what he has spent to the family head. If some of his expenses are found to have been unnecessary, he will be questioned about them in detail. Only when satisfactory reasons are given will hits account be closed. (1 945: 76)
Brothers should theoretically remain together in the Chinese joint family until the death of their father, at which time the family and its estate is supposed to be partitioned into equal parts for each of the sons who, together with his wife and children, forms successor jia. Because of the strains inherent in joint family organization, however, early partition is quite common. Unlike in the stem family systems described below where the house head owns the family estate until he transfers it to his successor, in joint family systems such as that of China all heirs are co-owners of the family estate from the time of their birth (Freedman, 1966: 49). Though it is discouraged, a son can demand partition and set up a separate jia at any time. The new bride coming into a joint family where she will be under the authority of her husband's mother is often depicted as a powerless victim, but as the potential mistress of a separate jia, she, too, has more influence than is sometimes recognized. A new room for her and her husband's exclusive use is usually prepared before the wedding. "Room", in fact, is used in Chinese to designate the nuclear family formed by her, her husband, and their children within the joint family. The new bride normally brings a substantial dowry of both goods and cash with her at the time of her marriage, and this dowry (the cash portion of which is known in Mandarin as "private room money"), remains separate from the joint family estate. It is managed by her until she and her husband set up a separate jia. It often happens that when the interests of the "rooms" of a joint family diverge, some or all of the sons demand partition even if the parents are still alive. In such cases, ad hoc provisions are made for the care of parents - a portion of the estate being reserved for their subsistence, or, perhaps, an arrangement by which they rotate eating their meals at the jia of their various sons.
Though Chinese joint families have proved to be very successful, because of the strains between the various "rooms", they can succeed only with determined effort. Some jia with amicable brothers may remain in joint form for long periods - even after the death of the father - but others may go through a very short period of joint operation before splitting into smaller nuclear-family jia. Chinese informants often blame such early splits on women, who they say are quarrelsome and small-minded. From the etic point of view, however, we can see that even if quarrels between daughters-in-law are the proximate causes of early partition, daughters-in-law quarrel not simply as individual women, but as the representatives of potential independent jia within the joint family (Freedman, 1966:46). In this sense they are structural representatives of their husbands as well as themselves. In families that diversify into several lines of business the economic incentives for maintaining joint family organization are very strong. In peasant farming where there are few economies of scale, on the other hand, the strains of joint family organization usually lead to fairly early partition. Those who have surveyed Chinese peasant villages, for this reason, find that joint families are usually no more than 20 percent of the families, even though the Chinese family system can be accurately characterized as a joint one in the sense that joint families are the most complex families regularly produced.
Depending upon the timing of births, marriages, and partitions the forms of the Chinese jia vary between nuclear, stem and joint over the course of the family cycle. This variation depends, of course, on a married couple successfully raising sons. Especially in pre-modern times when death rates were high and subsistence precarious, however, Chinese families have commonly had to deal with the problem of sonlessness or even childlessness. In such cases, families have to maintain their continuity through some means other than patrilineal succession. Common alternatives are uxorilocal marriage, or adoption of a relative. In an uxorilocal marriage (uxor = wife) a family that has daughters but no son brings in a husband. The frequency of such marriages can be as high as 20 percent of the marriages in a village, but because it is non-standard such marriages are normally made by contract. Contracts fix who will be the house head, whether the married-in husband will have rights in family property, and which surname the children will take. The rights of the husband are often fixed to be analogous to those of a wife in a patrilocal marriage - his income will support the family members, he will have the right to support from family funds, his children will take his wife's surname to continue the family line, and his children will have rights in his father-in-law's jia estate. Sometimes a man will stipulate that some of his children take his own surname to continue his family line. Because of the awkward position of uxorilocally married husbands who have fewer rights in their marital jia than patrilocally married husbands, however, only poor men usually make this sort of marriage, and they end up in divorce much more frequently than patrilocal marriages. Sometimes a widow will make an uxorilocal marriage to provide enough labour to manage the family farm until such time as her son by her first husband, to whom she was patrilocally married, is old enough to take over. In such cases the uxorilocally married husband may be forced out when her son reaches majority.
The Chinese type of corporate joint family system with preferred patrilineal succession and patrilocal post-marital residence is also found among the Hmong, a hill-tribe of southern China and the northern areas of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. It is the most common family system in South Asia among both Hindus and Muslims, but due to the high degree of ethnic diversity in India several other types of family are also found. The higher age of marriage in South India compared to North India also makes for the less frequent formation of joint families there than in the north (Goody, 1990: 274).
In some parts of south India, too, succession is in the female rather than male line. The most famous group with a matrilineal corporate joint family system are the Nayar caste of southwest India, but a similar family system is also found in Indonesia among the Muslim Minangkabau who formed matrilineal joint families with duolocal or uxorilocal post-marital residence. The Minangkabau are the dominant ethnic group of the province of West Sumatra in Indonesia, and the state of Negri Sembilan on the Malay Peninsula. Numbering in all some three million persons, in recent years they have migrated to most parts of Indonesia with major population clusters in the cities of Sumatra and in Djakarta, in addition to the two million, or so, who continue to reside in their traditional homeland of highland West Sumatra.
The matrilineal Minangkabau family centres on a group of sisters and their brothers. According to Minangkabau custom, or adat, one remains for life a member of the family into which one is born, that is, of one's mother. Sisters and their young children traditionally lived together in a large "tradition house" (rumah adat) with a high peaked roof said to resemble buffalo horns. This house was divided into apartments known as bilek. As each sister reached marriageable age, she would be allocated an apartment for herself and her children where she could receive her husband at night. From the age of six, or so, boys usually slept in village prayer houses, though they would continue to take meals at their mother's house. Life in the house was corporate and communal: brothers and sisters worked the house land and stored the produce in common granaries built in front of the house. The oldest mother's brother of the house would play the male political roles - primarily representing the house to the outside and partaking in councils in which disputes would be settled according to custom - while the eldest female headed the day-to-day activities of the house that were mostly taken care of by the women. We lack detailed data on the developmental cycle of these communal houses, but when the number of married sisters (or cousins} became too large, the house would be partitioned, and a group of sisters (most likely the descendants of a single mother or grandmother) would hive off to form a new tradition house junior to the original one. Most tradition houses then would be inhabited by joint matrilineal corporate families, the possession of their own house being the chief sign of their separate, corporate existence.
Josselin de Jong (1952:11) characterizes the traditional Minangkabau residence pattern as duolocal, that is, husband and wife each belonged to their natal family and never formed a separate marital family. As Kato notes, "Adult male house members belong to the adat house but do not live there. The husbands of the female house members stay at night at the adat house but do not belong to it" (1982:44). This residence pattern becomes explicable when rights in property are understood. Property among Minangkabau is of two types: ancestral property (harta pusaka) that belongs to lineages but is managed by families, and personal property that has been earned by individual effort (harta pancarian). Ancestral property is in principle inalienable (cannot be bought or sold) and must be passed down matrilineally (that is through the female line from a woman to her own children, or from a man to his sister's children, since his own children belong to his wife's family!. Irrigated riceland, the basis of traditional subsistence, is mostly ancestral property owned by matrilineages who grant the various corporate families of their lineage usufruct, or use rights, to the land. Each corporate family may cultivate that land, but must pass it on only to lineage members - to children of sisters, but not to brothers, since brothers' children belong to their wives' lineage. Membership in a Minangkabau corporate family, then, gives one use rights to the family house and family riceland and these rights are not affected by residence. Ancestral property brought by a man in marriage to his wife's house reverts to the man's natal family at his death. Although a man might love his wife and children, his chief economic responsibility lay with his sisters and their children, and he was supposed to work hard to enlarge their and his family estate. In addition to ancestral property, however, men and women also sometimes obtained personal property through their own efforts in crafts, trading, or through earnings gotten while sojourning outside the Minangkabau heartland. Such personal property is interpreted as subject to Islamic Law, rather than custom, and is accordingly passed by bequest, usually from fathers to sons, and mothers to daughters.
One can see, then, that the traditional Minangkabau family was female-centred and self-sufficient. Most agricultural and domestic tasks were managed through the cooperative effort of the women of the house, and whether each woman's husband was resident or not had little impact on household affairs. Male socialization of boys went on, to a large extent, at Islamic prayer houses outside the family so that even in this domain the husbands presence was not necessarily required at home. This made temporary migration (merantau) out of villages to make money a simple affair. Minangkabau, in fact, are known for their propensity to move to cities and engage in commercial occupations. This picture of female centred households contradicts, to an extent, the picture of matrilineal households gleaned from studies of the Nayar and matrilineal African groups, among whom males have authority over women and children, and succession goes from mother's brother to sister's son (Schneider, 1961). For the Minangkabau, it is clear that a wide variety of arrangements and roles are available to both sexes and that women are central in day-to-day decision making (Tanner, 1985).
In recent years few new communal tradition houses have been constructed, and the duolocal residence pattern seems to have evolved into an uxorilocal one. This seems mostly to be a result of the reduced access of corporate families to ancestral land which, with population growth, is no longer sufficient to support most people. Landlessness is not unusual now. As male earnings, rather than cooperative female agriculture, have become more important for subsistence, the economic role of the husband has become more central, and since his earnings usually do not come from the cultivation of ancestral land, they are personal property that he is able to pass in significant amounts down to his biological children rather than to the children of his birth family (that is, his sister's children).
Stem Family Systems
Joint family systems may be based on patrilineal kinship as among the Chinese, Indians, and Hmong, on matrilineal kinship as among the Minangkabau, or on bilateral kinship as among the Iban. All, however, are based on partible inheritance, a form of inheritance in which all children - all those of a particular sex in lineal systems, or of both sexes in bilateral systems - inherit approximately equal shares of productive property from their parents, and in which their rights to property begin in principle at birth. This system has the disadvantage of making it difficult to preserve wealth over time, since family property is partitioned in each generation among a number of heirs. Yang, for example, noting that few Chinese farm families maintain wealth for several generations, suggests that the well-being of families rises and falls over the family cycle (Yang, 1945:132 42), and a similar effect has been noted by Greenhalgh (19851 for urban Taiwan. Another disadvantage of joint family systems from the point of view of parents is that house heads' authority tends to recede as they age. Access to joint property is a right of all heirs and does not depend upon parental whim. Children dissatisfied with house heads' decisions can always agitate for partition - a demand that in the long run must be met - and this possibility limits house heads' arbitrary authority.
It is common in corporate family systems, thus, for a single child to be favoured over others in the amount of inheritance and for that person to be the one upon whom the family headship will devolve. In extreme cases, inheritance is impartible: the family estate is passed intact, along with the family headship, to only one person in the succeeding generation. In either case a stem family system is created: only the child who is the successor to the family headship is allowed to bring permanently a spouse into their birth family, and the most complex form normally attained in the family cycle is a stem family. As stem family systems create a strong distinction between the social position of successors and non-successors, they tend to exist in societies with strong hierarchical status distinctions. In contrast to joint family systems, moreover, in stem family systems the senior generation maintains full control over the family and property until either their death or retirement.
Korea and Vietnam are two interesting examples of patrilineal stem family systems. In both of these countries bordering on China strong Chinese cultural influence led originally bilateral family systems to become patrilineal when local elites appropriated aspects of Chinese ancestor worship and lineage organization. Both systems seem at first glance so similar to that of China that observers have sometimes seen them as minor variants of the Chinese model, but succession and inheritance in Korea and Vietnam are quite different from China and from each other. Although joint families are occasionally found in both systems, neither system produces the true joint family with a full division of labour and heirs with rights to property from birth.
The Korean family, or chip, has the usual corporate characteristics: a person belongs to one and only one corporate family whose membership is clearly defined, and each family has a head maintained by succession who manages the family estate. The family cycle on the surface, looks similar to that of China. Except in cases of sonlessness, daughters make patrilocal marriages in which they transfer membership from their corporate birth family to their husband's corporate family bringing with them a small dowry. Unlike China, however, the position of the eldest son in inheritance and succession is distinguished from that of all others. The eldest son must succeed to the position of house headship on the death of his father, and consequently, only he is allowed to make a patrilocal marriage and bring a wife into his father's house. All other sons must make neolocal marriages, that is, they must partition from their birth family and form a new corporate family at the time of their marriage. This marriage pattern corresponds with a system of partible, but unequal, inheritance. Parents may divide their property among their children however they see fit, so it is possible for them to give all their property to their eldest son - the successor who will care for them in their old age - and this sometimes actually happens. In intestate inheritances, however, the right of all children, male and female, to a portion of the family estate is recognized, and inheritances in general tend to follow an approximation of these rules. Females lose all but a negligible portion of their inheritance right when they transfer to another corporate family at marriage (which is well-nigh universal), so for practical purposes inheritance is confined to sons. The successor to the family headship, who must be the eldest son in all cases where an eldest son exists, receives twice the portion of non-successors. A family with two sons, thus, will reserve two-thirds for the eldest son and bestow one-third on the younger son; with three sons, the eldest gets half and each of the younger sons a quarter, and so forth. In folk practice the eldest son's portion rarely falls below half even when sons are more numerous than two. Koreans justify unequal inheritance by noting that eldest sons, unlike younger sons, inherit the responsibility for ancestor worship.
In a stem family system like that of Korea families of oldest and younger sons have different family cycles. An eldest son remains a member of his birth family which, with his marriage, assumes stem form. This main family of parents and married eldest son retains the bulk of the family property, and is known as the "big house" (k'un chip). Younger sons partition from the big house at the time of their marriage, and on the basis of their smaller inheritances create conjugal branch families known as "little houses" (chagun chip). With the death of the parents, the main family may well revert to nuclear form until the marriage of the next eldest son, while in the following generation the conjugal families of the "little houses" may also raise more than one son, in which case they, too, in addition to developing stem form, may create their own branch families. Over time in rural villages, a nested structure of relatively prosperous main, and less prosperous branch, families tends to be created, perpetuating in following generations the status distinction between eldest and younger brothers. This is reflected in the kin terms for fathers' brothers and their wives who, if they were successors in a main house will be known as "big father" (k'un aboli) and "big mother" (k'un omoni), but if they formed a branch family will be known as "little father" (chagun aboli) and "little mother" (chagun omoni).
Fathers in Korea retain more authority than in Chinese joint families since they can, in fact, divide the property between heirs however they please. Partition for non-successors in stem family systems, thus, is different from partition in joint family systems. In joint family systems, as among the Chinese or Iban, partition is precipitated by quarrels among the incipient nuclear families of the joint household that reflect underlying economic tensions. Based as they are on partible inheritance, joint families partition by recognizing and making concrete the rights that the various heirs inherently have in family property. This allows heirs to force partition whenever they feel that joint family organization is no longer in the interest of their nuclear family. In stem family systems, on the other hand, formal rights to the family estate do not begin even for successors until actual succession to the headship upon the death of the father. Rather than being forced by heirs, then, the timing of younger sons' partition and how much they get depends solely on the house head - who may be the father, but can be an older brother if succession has already taken place. From an etic point of view the estate can be considered family rather than individual property, but since heirs do not have inherent parcenary rights in the same sense that they do in China, house heads can in fact treat family property as a personal possession.
In Vietnam, hierarchical and corporate features are less developed than in Korea, but again stem rather than joint family formation is encouraged despite strong Chinese cultural influence. In Vietnam, as in Korea, kinship is patrilineal and marriage is normally patrilocal. Succession, at least in the south, goes to the youngest, rather than oldest son, however. Each older son may bring a wife into his birth family for a short time, but he is expected to partition and set up neolocal residence before the marriage of the next son and he may, in fact, partition at the time of his marriage. Only the youngest son is expected to remain in his birth family on a permanent basis after his marriage. As in Korea, then, two types of family - neolocal nuclear families, and patrilocal stem families - are regularly formed. Because the successor is the youngest rather than the oldest son, however, the phase of stem family formation tends to be shorter in Vietnam than in Korea simply because parents are older when their youngest rather than oldest son marries so that the number of years during which married parents and children live together is shorter. Statistically, then, while in Korean villages 20 to 40 percent of the families tend to be in stem form at any particular time (Sorensen, 1988:43), in Vietnam the proportion is closer to 10 percent (Hickey, 1964:92; Rambo, 1970: 29; Houtart and Lemercinier, 1984: 1021. This again illustrates how demographic factors interact with the phases of the family cycle to create a variety of family forms.
Because of differences between the formal legal code and folk practices, and because of the political fragmentation of Vietnam from the colonial period until unification in 1975, inheritance practices were not uniform over the whole country. Most contentious has been the question of female inheritance. The traditional Vietnamese legal code followed Chinese precedents in confining inheritance to sons, but folk practice included daughters in inheritance. In Cochin China (the southern third of colonial Vietnam) the folk practice of equal inheritance among all sons and daughters was legally recognized, whereas in the more densely populated north it was not. The capability of women to inherit that has been retained in Vietnamese folk practice reflects the more powerful position of women in the Vietnamese family, where they have more significant decision-making powers than is typical for East Asia. In both north and south Vietnam, one twentieth of the family estate was supposed to devolve on the eldest son (who resided neolocally) to support ancestor worship responsibilities. As in Korea, desire to conform to Chinese ancestor worship practices favours males over females and eldest over younger sons, but in Vietnam succession to family ancestor worship which goes to the eldest son, and succession to the family household, which goes to the youngest son, are split so that hierarchical distinctions between sons are more muted than in Korea where inheritance, succession, and ancestor worship are all concentrated on the eldest son.
The Kachin, a swiddening tribe of the India-Burma border also has patrilocal residence with youngest son succession, and Leach argues that these rules are "inconsistent" because it is hard for a younger son to maintain authority when his older brother is nearby (1970: 1671. In fact, the tension brought about by this is one of the chief structural features of Kachin society. We know little about the relationship of brothers in Vietnam, but it seems likely that further investigation of this relationship would be revealing.
Many of the family systems of Southeast Asia are similar to the Vietnamese or Kachin in that each child in turn may bring in a spouse before establishing neolocal residence, but only the youngest will marry and reside permanently with their birth family. Most Southeast Asian ethnic groups, however, do not follow a patrilocal residence rule. (The Hmong, having patrilocal marriage, are an exception.) Among the Burmese, the Karen, the Northern Thai and Lao (but not the Central Thai), and currently among the matrilineal Malay of the state of Negri Sembilan in Malaysia, the post-marital residence rule is uxorilocal with only one married child at a time allowed to live in their birth family. Grooms usually move in with their wife's family, where they live for a couple of years until they can establish a neolocal residence - most often close to the wife's family. The youngest daughter is supposed to remain in her birth family to care for her parents in their old age.
As among the Hmong, both brideprice and dowry are found in North India, but whether brideprice or dowry is paid, and the size of the payments depends upon the position of castes in the caste hierarchy, and the position of a family within the caste. Sanskritic, or Hindu, norms emphasize that proper marriage should involve the free gift of a daughter without any expectation of return. Upper caste groups, then, avoid brideprice transactions. Dowry, known classically as stridhana, is usually part of such marriages, and is usually deemed to represent the daughter's share of the family estate, since she receives nothing in inheritance. Members of lower castes, however, can rarely afford to give daughters significant dowries, and among them brideprice is common. According to Hindu notions, this is one of the justifications of the caste hierarchy: lower castes demonstrate impurity by asking for brideprice in exchange for daughters, and by allowing remarriage or inheritance of widows by brothers; upper castes demonstrate greater purity by giving daughters and dowries as a pure gift, and by avoiding remarriage or inheritance of widows. The extreme expression of this purity is the upper caste custom of sati in which a widow might immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre as a demonstration of the indissolubility of her marriage to her husband. Cases of sati were never common, however, and widows who did this were often worshipped as minor deities.
In addition to the emic Hindu interpretation of these marital transactions, an I etic interpretation is also possible. As noted for the Kachin and Hmong, payments in unilinear kinship systems usually ratify the transferral of rights in genitricum and rights in uxorem to the wife-taking lineage. Where substantial brideprice I payments are demanded - as among some North India castes - the groom's lineage, among whom the brideprice payment would have been collected, may want to continue to maintain control of a widow's reproductive rights and domestic labour for which they have paid by giving her to a brother of a deceased husband, or they may allow her to remarry, using the brideprice they receive to obtain new spouses for lineage members. Where substantial dowry is involved, however, considerations of control of property rather than of a woman's reproductive rights come into play. Dowry, as we have seen, endows a new conjugal family with property so that, in a class society in which status depends on wealth, children will be able to maintain their social status. A widow who remarries might take her dowry and even some of her deceased husband's property - into her second marriage, thus alienating from her first marital family property crucial for the maintenance of their social status. In the case of a poor, low status brideprice-paying caste, then, widow inheritance does not threaten the affinal alliances created through marriage. Neither does remarriage with repayment of the brideprice threaten the ability of the lineage to reproduce. Both practices are allowed. In rich, high status dowry-transferring castes, on the other hand, both widow inheritance and remarriage threaten the integrity and social status of the property holding family line and are not allowed.
Questions of brideprice and dowry in India are related to stratification within castes, as well as status relations between castes, and are especially important when brides and grooms are of different social status - either because of caste differences, or because of wealth differences. Whether among matrilineal or patrilineal groups, intra-caste hypergamy (marriage of women into richer families of the same caste) and hypogamy (marriage of a woman into poorer families of the same caste) are closely related to transfers of wealth at marriage. A high dowry, for example, can make up for less-than-perfect family background, or looks, in a woman, or a brideprice payment can, to an extent, make up for similar defects in a man.
Since women move to their husband's house and take his status upon marriage in most of North India this phenomenon reinforces the notion that dowry is high status and brideprice low status. In some parts of India, in fact, systematic hypergamy is found where families try to take brides from slightly lower groups and give brides to slightly higher groups. The more substantial the dowry, of course, the more successfully a family can play this game, but systematic hypergamy creates problems in the lowest and highest social groups. At the bottom of the system, poor men may have difficulty finding wives, since most women marry up. Informal polyandry sometimes develops when brothers find they can get together only enough brideprice for a single marriage (Karve, 1953:132). High status families, on the other hand, may find it difficult to find a husband for all their daughters, since most males of their class find wives from slightly lower groups. This sometimes leads to high rates of celibacy, as among Nambudiri Brahmin females of Kerala, or even to high rates of female infanticide as among high-status Rajputs in the nineteenth century who did not want the family property to be dissipated by numerous female marriages requiring high dowry payments (Goody, 1990:306).
With greater commercialization of the Indian economy, questions of dowry have become more acute than in the past. "Dowry evil" has become a regular topic of discussion in the Indian mass media, but what is called "dowry" here does not always precisely conform to anthropological definitions of the term. As mentioned above, one of the defining features of dower and dowry is that the wealth involved ultimately devolves upon the new conjugal family created by marriage (Goody, 1990:15). "Brideprice" payments that do not remain with the bride's family, but return with the bride into her marital family, thus, are really forms of indirect dowry provided by the groom's family. Conversely, "dowry" payments that come from the bride's family, but go to the groom's family rather than the bride or the groom themselves, do not strictly constitute dowry, but rather must be considered a form of "bridegroom price". The existence of bridegroom price has been best documented for India by Caplan (1984). Among upper class families in urban India, men with highly desirable occupational prospects (doctors, high civil servants) who also belong to one's own caste, are scarcer than the supply of women who wish to marry them. Because of this, highly desirable grooms can ask for and get very large dowry settlements. In many cases part of this dowry comes with the wife and may be considered a form of stridhana, but much of it goes directly to the groom. Most interesting, however, is that a very large proportion may go neither to the bride nor groom, but the groom's family which in turn uses the money to make good marriages for their own daughters. This kind of payment which forms a revolving conjugal fund that does not devolve on the couple actually getting married is precisely analogous to brideprice.
Although inflation of "dowry" and bridegroom price has been pointed to as a social evil and been the object of legislative reform in India, where the 1961 Prohibition of Dowry Act forbade giving property between families directly or indirectly "as a consideration for marriage" (Caplan, 1984: 2191, it is not clear that "dowry evil" is an entirely new phenomenon in India where high caste Hindus have always looked with contempt at those who "sell their daughters" (i.e. accept brideprice). In parts of Bengal, high status Brahmins who called themselves Kulin used to be able to demand very high bridegroom prices for their sons from girl's families whose Kulin status was not universally acknowledged. It is said that some families with many sons practised this form of marriage, known as Kulinism as a virtual business by marrying a large number of wives, and that sometimes these wives would remain at their birth family's house and their husbands would demand money for each visit (Karve, 1968:116-7). A similar form of bridegroom price may also be implicated in the "dowry deaths" that have received publicity in recent years. "Dowry deaths" are cases when young wives have died in their marital family's house under suspicious circumstances - often from kitchen burns. In many of these cases, which number several hundred each year, the media have inferred that desire for more "dowry" has been the motivation. Though it is not clear whether it is dowry in the strict sense or bridegroom price that is the culprit, two factors seem to be involved: (1) in many cases in India "dowry" is not paid in a lump sum at the time of marriage, but in instalments beginning with the marriage, and (2) the bride herself often does not control this "dowry" after her incorporation into a joint family, despite norms which indicate that at least some of it should be considered her personal property. This opens the door for bridetaking families to make continuous demands for "dowry" from bride-giving families even years after the marriage has been arranged. It is suspected that brides' unexplained deaths are in some cases a result of the inability, or unwillingness, of bride-giving families to meet these continuous "dowry" demands.
Lineages and Social Stratification
Looking back on the various lineages we have considered - Hmong, Kachin, North Indian, Chinese, Korean - we can see that their functions are mainly political and are closely related to systems of social stratification. In societies where control of landed property is not a determinant of social status, lineages may, in fact, be the primary determinant of social status and the main ingredient of the political system. Here brideprice payments reach their greatest importance. Thus, among the Kachin marital relations among bride-giving and bride-taking lineages, combined with brideprice payments, are the primary determinants of the lineage and family status.
In economically stratified societies, such as China or India, however, lineages interact with control of property and other institutions in complex ways. Both brideprice and dowry become important for social status and three different models, the North Indian, Chinese and Korean can be identified. In North India, where the endogamous occupational groupings known as caste are important, the functions of lineages are limited, and their depth shallow. Dowry is more important than brideprice. In southeast China where castes were absent, on the other hand, complex lineages became corporate institutions for political action, and the control of endowed wealth gave lineage members advantages others might not share in political competition and upward mobility through the examination system. Here both brideprice and dowry were important. In Korea membership in corporate lineages with seasonal tombside ancestor worship was considered to be an attribute of an endogamous ruling elite, called the yangban. In this case ancestor worship and lineage organization - most of which was modelled after Chinese precedents - could be considered conspicuous consumption of Chinese culture in order to ratify position in a ruling group steeped in the Chinese culture tested in state examinations. Since control of property was less important for social status than demonstration of membership in the endogamous yangban status group, interchange of gifts between affines rather than strict brideprice or dowry were the most important marital exchanges.
Lineages come out of domestic groups and the operation of the domestic cycle, but they are analytically distinct from either. Families are units of everyday economic and sexual life - of production and reproduction - but lineages are political entities that may or may or may not develop depending upon potential lineage members' political and economic circumstances. Lineage membership - especially of the corporate sort - is not an automatic development of the family cycle, then, but rather something that is deliberately created, or not created, through acts of filiation, payment and organization. Though everybody has ancestors and belongs to a potential lineage, even in societies that have corporate lineages, not everybody belongs to one, and much scope is left for strategic manipulation of cultural possibilities.
Kinship and Social Change
Though families and other kinship-based institutions are thought of as a separate field of study in anthropology, it is clear that they are best understood in relationship to other social institutions - the organization of production, land tenure, religion, social stratification, political organization - in other words the total production and reproduction of society. As is inevitable in a short text, however, we have not been able to cover all topics of interest, nor deal with social institutions in the full richness of their historical specificity. For purposes of simplification we have also downplayed the constant development and change of family and kinship institutions as societies themselves have been in constant flux. Here, however, we will touch on some contemporary issues of change in Asian family systems.
Social change can be thought of as of two main types: cultural and strategic Cultural change can be planned and deliberate - as when legal reforms in family and kinship law are introduced - but it also can be brought about by gradual changes in values and modes of thinking about family and kinship introduced through education, urbanization, or other sources. .. Strategic change has an intellectual component, since strategies must be formulated on the basis of an understanding of culture, but strategies can also be seen as adaptive behavioural responses to changes in material and other circumstances that affect family organization.
The idea of strategic thinking has been introduced in earlier sections: .. people manipulate cultural possibilities - post-marital residence possibilities, or brideprice and dowry payments - for social ends. If the political or material conditions under which decisions have to be made change, we may notice changes in the frequency with which certain strategic choices are made, or changes in the use of strategic resources. Increasing power of children in choosing their spouses may lead to a decline in types of marriage that are more advantageous from the parents' rather than children's point of view. This seems to have happened with adopted daughter-in-law marriages in Taiwan in the thirties (Wolf, 1970). Changes in fertility and mortality, as we have noted in our discussion of the family developmental cycle, can increase or decrease the frequency of complex family organization by making the creation of stem or joint families more or less demographically feasible. Changes in economic variables that condition family structure such as patterns of land tenure, industrialization, urbanization, or commercialization may encourage changes in family formation and kinship behaviour as well. Response to such changes may be considered primarily strategic if the behaviours involved do not require new ways of categorizing family and kinship relations, or rules for organizing families and kinship groups.
Cultural and strategic change are not mutually exclusive. Members of a society normally experience change as a holistic, lived experience, rather than something that happens in two distinct realms. Any cultural change will require adaptive adjustments and responses to the concrete situations in which individuals find themselves, yet a short term adaptive response to changing circumstances may in the long run lead people to think about their family and kinship relations in different ways than in the past, and so lead to cultural change. The distinction between cultural and strategic change, then, is an analytical one made by the anthropologist. It is useful, however, because it helps us keep the nature and extent of contemporary social change in perspective.
Social critics sometimes write as if all social change is the result of changes in norms and values (i.e. "culture") and as if the social change people experience today is unique in world history. Much of what is perceived of as social change, however, is simply strategic adaptation to changing circumstances rather than fundamental shifts in values. We have noted above for the Minangkabau that reduction in the complexity of family organization is quite as likely to be caused by strategic changes in the timing of partition as in the decline of matriliny as an organizing principle (cultural change), and other cases could be cited. One should be wary of underestimating the amount of change in the past, or overestimating its amount in the present. Strategic thinking and manipulation of cultural norms are as fully characteristic of the past as the present; social change in this sense is a condition of all societies, and not something we should think of as peculiar to the modern era.