The Family among the Australian Aborigines: A Sociological Study

By B. Malinowski | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
PARENTS AND CHILDREN

I

CONSIDERATION may first here be given to the cares and benefits a child receives from its mother during the first few years of its infancy. These facts constitute a very strong bond of union between the child and its nurse. Suckling is a physiological tie between the child and the mother, and next to the fact of birth it marks very strongly the individuality of this relation. Group motherhood has therefore never been a very popular idea and has never found a favourable reception amongst sociologists. We saw above, however, that it is very probable that the facts of birth may lack any social significance in the native mind. If it be further possible to imagine in the same tribe suckling performed, according to Dr. Rivers's suggestion,1 not by the actual mother, but by a group of kindred women, group motherhood would be quite comprehensible in such tribes.

In Australia, however, suckling seems to be strictly individual. This might indeed be inferred in the first place from the aboriginal mode of living. Communism in suckling and rearing a small child would involve a complete communism in life; and we know that unless two women are wives of the same man, they are to a great extent isolated in daily life. It is also highly improbable that in the two or three families which are roaming together there would be always a woman at hand who could help the other in these cares.

There are several other reasons which still more strongly

____________________
1
Compare above, p. 6.

-234-

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The Family among the Australian Aborigines: A Sociological Study
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction xi
  • Chapter I - Exposition of the Problem and Method 1
  • Chapter II - Modes of Obtaining Wives 34
  • Chapter III - Husband and Wife 67
  • Chapter IV - Sexual Aspect of Marriage 89
  • Chapter V - Mode of Living 132
  • Chapter VI - Discussion of Kinship 168
  • Chapter VII - Parents and Children 234
  • Chapter VIII - Economics 274
  • Chapter IX - Summary and Conclusions 292
  • Addenda 305
  • References and Reading List 310
  • Index 313
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