Post Scriptum. Flowing back into the river-bed of the stem-family References

Notes

1. A previous version of this contribution was presented to the Workshop on "Social Interactions and Demographic Behaviour", Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, in October 1999.
2. (In the stem-family) "un des enfants, marié près des parents, vit en communauté avec eux et perpétue, avec leur concours, la tradition des ancêtres. Les autres enfants s'établissent au dehors quand ils ne préfèrent pas garder le célibat au foyer paternel. Ces émigrants peuvent à leur gré rester indépendents l'un de l'autre ou tenter en commun des entreprises, rester fidèles à la tradition ou se placer dans des situations nouvelles créés par leur propre initiative" [Le Play 1855].
3. (In the unstable/nuclear family) personne ne s'attache à un foyer, les enfants quittent séparément la maison paternelle dès qu'ils peuvent se suffire à eux-mêmes, les parents restent isolés pendant leur vieillesse et meurent dans l'abandon. Le père, qui s'est créé une existence en dehors de la tradition de ses aieux, n'inculque guère sa pratique à ses enfants: il sait d'ailleurs que ses efforts ne sauraient aboutir à un résultat durable. Les jeunes gens s'inspirent surtout de l'esprit d'indépendence. Dans le choix de leur carrière, ils cèdent à leur inclination et aux impulsions fortuites du milieu social qui les entoure" [Le Play 1855].
4. Emmanuel Todd [Sumner 1906], who in the 80s rediscovered the importance of Le Play's contribution to family anthropology, describes him as "aussi heureux dans ses recherches empiriques que pathétique dans ses propositions politiques".
5. Total fertility rates are not published by Eurostat on a regional level (NUTS 2). Therefore we have disaggregated the national TFR, beginning from two sets of available regional data (annual births and distribution of women classed by age), using a method suggested by Gini in 1932 and then recovered by Calot [Brettell 1991]. Comparing the Italian official TFR with the estimates obtained we note the robustness of the method, with a 1% average error (2% for the smaller regions).
6. Durkheim [1895] maintains that Stuart Mill's axiom of a plurality of causes (a consequence does not always flow from the same antecedent; on the contrary it can result now from one cause, now from another one) is the denial itself of the causality principle. No doubt, "if we agree with Mill that cause and effect are absolutely heterogeneous and without any logic link between them", there is no contradiction in the assumption of plurality of causes. Nevertheless if the cause-effect relation acts intensionally and not only extensionally or - Durkheim would say - if it consists of a "natural" relation, "the same effect can have such a relation just with only one cause".
7. Sources: author's calculations based on Eurostat data.
8. Elster [1999], discussing the mechanisms underlying human actions (i.e. "frequently occurring and easily recognizable causal patterns that are triggered under generally unknown conditions or with indeterminate consequences") distinguishes type A mechanisms ("which arise when the indeterminacy concerns which - if any - of several causes will be triggered") and type B mechanisms (which "arise when we can predict the triggering of two causal chains that affect an independent variable in opposite directions, leaving the net effect indeterminate"). The demographic decline from the seventies to the nineties could be classified as specific contamination between both types. The triggering of two, logically self-contradictory, causal chains sets off similar effects.
9. Here and below I use the terms embeddedness and embedding in the sense that Polanyi [1944] attributed to them, to refer to the relation between society and the economy (embedded or not embedded in it).
10. From west to east: Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Northern part of Castilla y Leòn, Paìs Vasco, Aragon, Navarra and La Rioja, Catalonia. Holdsworth [1998] circumscribes a similar area (the only significant absence is that of Catalonia.) characterised by a late timing of leaving home for young men, and refers to the Le Play's classification.
11. Midi, Auvergne and Aquitaine, Poitou and Limousin.
12. Languedoc and Provence.
13. Except a great part of the plain of the River Po, including Lombardy and Veneto.
14. Salzburg, Tirol, Vorarlberg and Kärnten.
15. In "L'organisation de la famille" [Le Play 1871] Le Play often lists the regions of continental Europe where the patriarchal and stem-family models prevail. "La famille patriarcale (..) domine sur certaines montagnes (..) notamment sur les hautes prairies des Alpes, du Vivarais, de l'Auvergne, du Jura et des Vosges. Elle se conserve également dans les grandes métairies du plateau central de la France" (§ 7, p.27). "La famille souche offre ce caractère dans les États scandinaves, le Holstein, le Hanovre, la Westphalie, la Bavière méridionale, le Salzbourg, la Carinthie, le Tyrol, les petits cantons suisses, le nord de l'Italie et de l'Espagne. Elle est encore représentée en France (..) dans les Pyrénées françaises et espagnoles" (§ 8, p.31). "Les populations slaves et hongroises se groupaient pour la plupart en familles patriarcales sous le régime d'engagements forcés qui a régné parmi elles jusqu'aux réformes commencées en 1848. Elles se rattachent peu à peu à la famille-souche (..). Toutes les races de propriétaires scandinaves offrent dans leurs famille-souches d'admirables modèles. En Norvège, en Suède, en Danemark (..). Les familles-souches qui parlent la langue allemande sont mêlées en beaucoup de lieux, près du Rhin surtout, à la famille instable (..). En tête des meilleurs types se placent les paysans du Lunebourg hanovrien (..). Après le Hanovre on peut citer les duchés du Nord-Est, la Westphalie, le midi du grand-duché de Bade, du Wurtemberg et de la Bavière, la Carynthie, le Salzbourg, le Tyrol, le Vorarlberg et les petits cantons catholiques de la Suisse. Les paysans à famille-souche se conservent avec d'excellentes qualités dans les deux péninsules du Midi. En Italie ils se rencontrent surtout dans le Lucquois, le Nord de l'Apennin et les hautes vallées des Alpes. En Portugal ils résistent encore dans les montagnes du Nord-Est (..). En Espagne ils luttent (..) dans la Galice, le Léon, les Asturies, la Navarre, l'Aragon et la Catalogne. Enfin dans les provinces basques.." (§ 12, p.94 ff).
16. Federkeil [1997] found "a polarisation between a growing 'non-family' sector on the one hand, which internally is quite heterogeneous or 'pluralized', and a shrinking family sector on the other hand, in which the traditional breadwinner-homemaker is still dominant, although under some attack".
17. "The family and the family home used to be the mainspring of the typically bourgeois kind of profit motive. Economists have not always given due weight to this fact. When we look more closely at their idea of the self-interest of entrepreneurs and capitalists we cannot fail to discover that the results it was supposed to produce are really not at all what one would expect from the rational self-interest of the detached individual or the childless couple who no longer look at the world through the windows of a family home. Consciously or unconsciously they analysed the behaviour of the man whose views and motives are shaped by such a home and who means to work and to save primarily for wife and children. As soon as these fade out from the moral vision of the businessman, we have a different kind of Homo Oeconomicus before us who cares for different things and acts in different ways. For him and from the standpoint of his individualistic utilitarianism, the behaviour of that old type would in fact be completely irrational. He loses the only sort of romance and heroism that is left in the unromantic and unheroic civilisation of capitalism - the heroism of navigare necesse est, vivere non necesse (seafaring is necessary, living is not necessary, inscription on an old house in Bremen). And he loses the capitalist ethics that enjoys working for the future irrespective of whether or not one is going to harvest the crop oneself" [Schumpeter 1943].
18. To tell the truth, Le Play was not the only one, in the mid-1800s, to draft a sociography of the family. There are surprising similarities in Riehl's work: "In 1855, the year in which 'Les ouvriers européens' appeared, the third volume of Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl's 'The Natural History of the German People' was published, a work that considers the particularities of family structures in Germany. Le Play and his German alter ego reach broadly similar conclusions. For both of them, the German family model, the idea type of 'stock family' (Stamm-familie) that could also be found in other Nordic regions and elsewhere in enclaves in Europe, stood in marked contrast to the type of family that predominated for instance in Northern France - that is the 'unstable' or nuclear family" [Schultheis 1999].
19. By a curious lapsus calami the authors replace the name of Frédéric Le Play with that of Gustave Le Bon, author in the same years of a "Psychology of the Crowd", another landmark in studies on the mechanisms of social reproduction, which nevertheless has nothing to do with stem-family geography.
20. "The specific boundaries of different family systems are often not crystal clear, and subregional differences abound. For example (..) Northern and Southern France often appear to walk divergent paths, and the Southern fringes of Spain, Italy or Portugal often show characteristics distinct from the Northern parts of those same countries" [Reher 1998]. Exactly as in Le Play.
21. "One does not have a three-generation stem family because property is transmitted impartibly; one has such a family because parents want at least one child to remain at home, work on the farm, and assist them as they get older. In other words, within the broad context of the law, mechanisms for transferring property are strategies pursued to solve some of the problems faced by families of the past and the present, of Italy, Greece and Portugal - how to secure support in old age, how to contract a marriage for a child, how to provide for all one's children, how to maintain the social status of all members of the family. Transferring wealth is a form of economic behaviour, but as with most economic behaviour patterns studied by anthropologists, it has a social dimension as well. Through the transmission of property people make powerful statements about the meanings of parenthood and childhood, of maleness and femaleness and of kinship and alliance" [Brettell 1991].
22. "Succession itself within stem-family systems appears to have been conditioned by the strength of familial loyalties and solidarity holding in any given region of Europe (..) Each of these family systems has ended up by generating justifications that are coherent with its own premises [Reher 1998].
23. Of course, there are other possible readings of the heterogeneity among national household models. In the nineties, some analyses are based on the category of individualistic disposition. E.g. Strather [1992] describes the individuality of people as 'the first fact of English kinship', emphasising that people are treated as unique persons rather than occupants of positions in a kinship universe". Influential is the work of Mac Farlane [1978], who traces back the present English model of kinship to a thirteenth century cultural syndrome he names 'individualism' (independence of children from their parents, kinship ties relatively weak and not linked to a common economy, contractual nature of inheritance). This is a transcultural approach, a sort of collective psychology, which is entirely legitimate but one which I do not use at all in this article.
24. Le Play's typology, reduced to the single dimension of localism, tends to converge with the criterion suggested by Hajnal [1983], which as a rule contrasts the central European type, compatible with neolocalism, with the non-compatible type.
25. Source: Laslett [1983].
26. Source: Barbagli [1991].
27. Italian geographers have pointed out that the stem-family area is marked by one-family multi-storey building, the western plain of the river Po by courtyard houses, whilst in Southern Italy detached houses prevail, as small one-family one-storey buildings or farmhouses.
28. An example of the close connection between family models and cultural ethnocentrism is the 'pairalist' culture of Catalonia: "There is an ideology of the Catalan family based on 'pairalismo' (the rural house, at once the source of family and tradition) and associated with cultural nationalism. That means that national differences can be expressed in terms of family customs, because the family is related to a particular cultural tradition. In the same way as nation can be expressed as 'casa nostra', the institution of casa is an element of cultural identity and of differentiation with other cultures"[Bestard Camps and Contreras Hernandez 1999].
29. See for instance the 'pazar' North-African economy, discussed in Boserup [1970].
30. In spite of a twenty-year debate - opened by Granovetter's [1973] suggestions - about the different social weight of strong ties and weak ties, we agree today to identify the latter with acquaintances, but we do not know what should be included in the former. Litwak and Szelenyi [1969] still considered without distinction kin, friends and neighbours as the three main primary-groups. In my opinion a correct taxonomy of strong ties would have to include, besides kinship ties, at least five kinds of ties (not all taken into account by sociological literature): a) ties arising out of the space (neighbours) or time (friendships within a peer group) of every day life; b) alliances of reciprocal solidarity made, in Mediterranean cultures, on the occasion of key life passages (e.g. marriage witnesses and godparents); c) step-relatives acquired by chains of marriages; d) the alliances of reciprocity drawn up among people who have all gone through similar critical life emergencies; e) any other strong tie people can develop in their public life from the universe of weak ties (acquaintances, work colleagues).
31. We cannot go on studying changes and divergences in family models totally detached from changes and divergences in kinship & networks. Over-optimistically Bott [1971] quoted a passage from Harris [1969]: "perhaps the really lasting significance of Bott's study is that she has made impossible the proliferation of studies of the internal structure of the family which take no account of its social environment". Unfortunately still today both demographers and sociologists hardly respect this elementary rule.
32. Bott uses the term 'network' in what has come to be called the 'egocentric' sense, "conceptually anchored on a particular individual or conjugal pair", and the term 'connectedness' as synonymous with 'density', to describe the extent to which the people known by a family know and meet one another independently of the focal family.
33. Where complementary and independent types of organisation predominate.
34. Where joint organisation is relatively predominant. Young and Willmott [1957] define as "symmetrical" the family Bott defines as a 'joint conjugal role-relationship'.
35. Including seven countries: Australia, Austria, Britain, West Germany, Hungary, Italy, and the United States.
36. As in Hungary and Italy, where "there is some evidence that socio-cultural factors are out-weighing the influence of modernisation. Even in the highly industrialised northern parts of Italy kin relations are much more similar to the overall Italian pattern of close kin contacts than to the loosened kin contacts of people in north-western Europe" [Hollinger and Haller 1990].
37. The overlap between Le Play's and Bott's categories produces a second problem. Le Play places the South of Italy (and other Mediterranean regions) in the area of nuclear family, so contradicting the evidence of a Mediterranean strongly role-segregated family. The issue is discussed in the next paragraph.
38. In Northern Tuscany and in the metropolitan area of Milan [Micheli 1999].
39. The Dutch network was larger both in the kinship and in non-kinship components, whilst the Italian network, nearly completely reduced to its kinship components, was further dried up by a below replacement fertility regime going back to the first decades of the century.
40. The Social Barometer was a quarterly survey, carried out by Abacus for two years (1996-1998) over a national sample of about 4000 interviews, stratified by sex, age, education, size of residence town and geographical regions.
41. Among older people the percentage of non-relatives in the social network is nearly 40% in Netherlands whilst it is only 27% in Tuscany, and it varies from 23% to 30% along the life span in the Social Barometer.
42. "If we assume that private-orientation means social networks consisting mainly of primary group relations and public-orientation means social networks with more secondary relations, (..) Historical family research shows that in the South- and East-European culture area primary-group ties are closer than in North-western-Europe and that the Anglo-Saxon nations have gone even further in the dissolution of kin ties" [Hollinger and Haller 1990].
43. As for Trumbach [1978], for example, the European family presents two competing forms of kinship organisation as far back as the 11th century. The egalitarian ideology of the 17th and 18th centuries should have spread up over the Northern Europe the popular kin recognition system or folkway, where the individual is surrounded by a single network of relatives, including both kin and relatives-in-law, and society is cemented by friendship, patronage and neighbourhood ties rather than by kinship ties. Contrarily, the diffusion over Central Europe of some elements of the aristocratic model of patrilineage or kindred, where kinship is less extended but more central, could explain the rise and placement of the stem-family.
44. Source: author's calculations based on Abacus Social Barometer [Micheli and Billari 1998], total number of cases = 3926, spline interpolation.
45. "For the most part, peasant families in Southern Europe with small and medium-sized farms tended to prefer family labour to non-family labour, quite unlike in other parts of the continent. In such areas as the Southern parts of Spain, Portugal or Italy, where farm size made the exclusive use of family labour impractical, there was an abundant supply of day labourers who did not co-reside with the farmer and his family". The Mediterranean large landed estate is therefore a background factor to the predominance of the unstable family.
46. Mouqaddima is the methodological introduction to a World History (Kitab el-Ibar) that Ibn Khaldun, historian of the Islamic declining Empire, wrote between 1375 and 1379.
47. "Il existe évidemment dans la nature de l'espèce humaine une disposition qui porte les hommes à s'attacher les uns aux autres et à former un groupe, même lorsqu'ils ne se rattachent pas à la même lignée (..), et la asabiyya qui en est la conséquence engendre seulement une partie des effets auxquels il donne lieu dans ce dernier cas. La plupart des habitants dans une grande ville sont alliée par mariage; ceci entraîne l'intégration des familles les unes dans les autres et l'établissement des liens de parenté entre elles.." [Ibn Khaldoun 1965].
48. The indeterminacy of the concept of 'Asabiyyah is outlined by Baali & Wardi [1981]: "In spite of his great reliance upon the term 'Asabiyyah, Ibn Khaldun never clearly defines it. It seems that the term was quite familiar, or known, in his time; thus he did not feel any need to define it. It may be sufficient for the purpose at hand to define 'Asabiyyah as the tribal loyalty or spirit which make the individual devote himself to his tribe and view the world through its eyes".
49. "No matter how nearly universal the factors of modernisation may be, once they enter into contact with different historical, cultural, geographical or social realities, the end result will necessarily be different in each context" [Reher 1998].
50. Le Bras [1999] poses a similar problem: "By a curious paradox in one part of Europe the family is stifling fertility, while in another the importance attached to the mother-child relationship, or its institutional replacement, endorses fertility and so pushes the total fertility rate up".
51. The most notable and most discussed, but not the only one, is that produced by the increased opportunity cost for women bearing children and by the consequent change in women's role.
52. For a formal approach to the diffusion of fertility control, reflecting the "random and path-dependent spread of information in social networks", see Kohler [1997].
53. "Assume that one's disposition is consonant with engaging in the behavior and that undergoing negative social pressure is dissonant with engaging in the behavior; one's disposition is dissonant with not engaging in the behavior, and the presence of negative social pressure is consonant with not engaging in the behavior. If one starts out high on the behavior in the face of strong social pressure, then as one's disposition decreases, dissonance increases. To reduce the dissonance, one will look for additional cognitions to support the behavior. Hence the behavior will tend to remain high even in the face of a decreasing disposition. On the other hand, starting with strong social pressure and low levels of behavior, increasing one's disposition will increase dissonance. To reduce the dissonance, one will look for additional cognitions to support not engaging in the behavior. Hence the behavior will remain low even though the disposition is increasing" [Tesser and Achee 1994].
54. Coherently with the Durkheim approach (equifinalistic processes produce similar but not identical results) Brown and Harris [1978] studying the ætiology of women's depression, links vulnerability (background) factors and provoking agents (or events) with a third kind of causal factor, which they name "symptom-formation factors", i.e. factors that "influence only the form and the severity of depression". An identical symptom (an identical effect) can be developed in a different underlying process (produced by different symptom-formation factors) and then multiplies itself in a range of symptoms with well-distinguished meaning. To understand present demographic processes also requires gathering empirical evidence and sharpening conceptual tools, in order to spot the symptom formation factors which control the switching over to other possible demographic strategies, as deliberate reactions against situations of cognitive dissonance.
55. The anthropologically embedded practices and norms are the most evident and most widely explored symptom-formation factors for demographic behaviour, though other factors just as promising can be singled out. Exploring several possible outcomes in a situation of cognitive dissonance, Elster [1999] distinguishes autonomous behaviour or mental processes, governed by the reality principle rather than the pleasure principle, and mechanisms that operate at an unconscious level, such as wishful thinking or adaptive preference formation. With regard to the latter, Elster emphasises the absence of a causal model to justify mental strategy going in either direction: "Nothing is known about when dissonance reduction takes the form of wishful thinking and when it appears as adaptive preference formation". Elsewhere [Micheli 1999] I have tried to explore the functioning of drives and dispositions, which can form at various crucial phases of the life-cycle, as factors motivating or deactivating family choices.
56. Exploring some signals that the youngest cohorts in four countries of Centre Europe should be exhibiting ideational trend reversal, Lesthaeghe and Moors [1995] concluded: "We are not sure that prospective developments with respect to these issues would be supportive of the 'coming back of the old family'. More likely is that various forms of family formation will continue to coexist, and that the rapid growth period of less conventional family patterns may have come to an end. In short, diversity is likely to prevail in the next decade, but the relative shares of each type may not be changing all that much any more. 'Stability in diversity' seems to be the more appropriate description for the near future".

 

Post Scriptum. Flowing back into the river-bed of the stem-family References

Kinship, Family and Social Network: The anthropological embedment of fertility change in Southern Europe
Giuseppe A. Micheli
© 2000 Max-Planck-Gesellschaft ISSN 1435-9871
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