Aiding and Aging: The Coming Crisis in Support for the Elderly by Kin and State

By John Mogey | Go to book overview

6
SEX DIFFERENCES IN KINSHIP
INTERACTIONS IN HUNGARY

László Cseh-Szombathy


KINSHIP AND SEX

British and American sociologists and anthropologists engaged in kinship studies have found recurringly that sex was a major differentiating factor in kin interactions. Young and Willmott ( 1957) described how mothers were the centers of the extended families, including the conjugal families of their grown-up children in a working class borough of London, how men joined the family of their wives. Firth, Hubert, and Forge ( 1969) found in middle-class English families that men tended on the whole to have poorer relations with siblings than women did. The same was the conclusion of Robins and Tomanec ( 1966) in their middle-class study in the United States. Women played a central role there, too, in maintaining relationships with relatives. Adams ( 1968) and Caplow, Bahr, Chadwick, Hill, and Williamson ( 1982) came to a similar conclusion as the result of surveys of American towns. Females were more involved in kin affairs than were males, they expressed more affection than the men for every category of relatives and provided and received more help on maternal lines.

Most of the aforementioned authors did not consider it necessary to try to explain the female dominance in kin interactions. Robins and Tomanec were the only ones who commented upon the facts by saying that "the greater closeness to female relatives can probably be explained by the fact that women tend to act as the representative to the nuclear family in fulfilling obligations to relatives. Therefore, any given Ego is more likely to have had contact with his female than with his male relatives" ( Robins, 1966: 140).

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