The Family among the Australian Aborigines: A Sociological Study

By B. Malinowski | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
MODES OF OBTAINING WIVES

KEEPING to these general methodological principles, the aim of this study will be merely an objective, unprejudiced description of the different forms of the Australian family organization.

In accordance with what has been said above, let us accept at the outset a general definition, along the lines of which our investigations will be carried out. My choice for this purpose is the well-known definition of Dr. Westermarck: "Marriage is a more or less durable connection between male and female, lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring." In another place ( Moral Ideas, ii. p. 364) Dr. Westermarck completes this definition: "As a social institution, on the other hand, it has a somewhat different meaning: it is a union regulated by custom and law. Society lays down the rules relating to the selection of partners, to the mode of contracting marriage, to its form, and to its duration." We may also remember that Dr. Westermarck first pointed out that "marriage is rooted in family, rather than family in marriage"1; and that he insists on the importance of economic elements in family life, and especially

____________________
1
( Hist. H. Marr., chap. iii.) Dr. Westermarck's work was written on much more general lines. He did not aim at a purely morphological reconstruction of family life in any ethnographical province. I did not, therefore, refer to his researches in the methodological sketch; here, however, they must serve as a starting point. It is the most exhaustive treatise on the individual family; all the essential parts of the problem are sketched in a masterly manner in this fundamental work, and the outlines of more special investigation indicated.

-34-

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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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