Archives for posts with tag: don’t touch that dial!

following up on the “mexican societal values” post — someone suggested via email that the world values scores on the same “justifed” questions for greece and southern italy might likely be lower than the scores for mexico, while the scores from scandinavian countries and maybe germany might likely be higher than for american whites. i agreed that those two scenarios could possibly be the case. i decided to check.

first of all — no greece in the most recent world values survey (dr*t!). i looked at all the major western european nations i could find in the most recent world values survey wave (2005-2008): finland, france, germany, great britain, italy, the netherlands, norway, spain, and sweden. (documentation of the data can be found here.)

i had planned to sort the data by ethnic group so as to just look at whites, but many of these countries didn’t record the ethnicity of the respondents (*facepalm*). on the first question — “Is it ever justifiable to claim government benefits to which you are not entitled” — for those countries that did ask ethnicity, the total scores were, with the exception of france, pretty similar to the scores for just whites (presumably because, despite all the immigration to europe, it was mostly white europeans that were surveyed)…

nation – total score (whites only score)
france – 51.60% (41.10%)
finland – 55.90% (55.80%)
sweden – 61.60% (62.40%)
great britain – 63.60% (65.50%)
italy – 74.70% (74.70%)

…so i decided to use the total scores for each nation instead of just those for whites. keep this in mind. the scores are, at best, an approximation of how native europeans feel — at worst, they’re way off!

as in the previous post, i looked at four of the “justifiable” questions:

Please tell me for each of the following statements whether you think it can always be justified, never be justified, or something in between [on a scale from 1 to 10, never to always]:

- Claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled.
– Avoiding a fare on public transport.
– Cheating on taxes if you have a chance.
– Someone accepting a bribe in the course of their duties.

here are the results for each country of those who answered “Never justifiable” (click on charts for LARGER versions — you can compare these to the mexican and american scores here)…

- Claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled. – Never justifiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - western europe - justifiable - government benefits

- Avoiding a fare on public transport. – Never justifiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - western europe - justifiable - avoiding fare

- Cheating on taxes if you have a chance. – Never justfiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - western europe - justifiable - cheating on taxes

- Someone accepting a bribe in the course of their duties. – Never justifiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - western europe - justifiable - accepting a bribe

the netherlands ftw! but what’s with all the high scores from italy?! isn’t that interesting?! we all know that italy is pretty corrupt — maybe even they are just sick and tired of all the corruption? dunno.

all of these western european nations scored higher than mexico on the first two questions: claiming government benefits and avoiding a fare — although the swedes came pretty close to white mexicans when it came to avoiding a fare on public transport.

only italy and the netherlands scored higher than white americans wrt claiming government benefits — and germany, italy, and the netherlands scored higher than white americans on the avoiding a fare question. swedes scored lower than white americans.

except for the netherlands, italy, and spain, most of the europeans scored around the same as mexicans wrt cheating on taxes. go figure! they all scored lower than white americans.

and sweden, france, germany, great britain, and even finland scored very like mexicans when it came to accepting a bribe — quite a few of them think that sometimes it could be justified. and again, except for the italians and the dutch, everyone scored lower than white americans.

so, no — on the whole, scandinavians and germans don’t outscore white americans on these societal values questions. the dutch generally do, though — as do frequently the italians!
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what about southern italians versus mexicans? here are the results for some of the different regions of italy (i excluded those regions where the sample size was less than 50). i’ve color-coded the regions — north=blue, central=green, south=red:

- Claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled. – Never justifiable.

wvs - italy regions - justifiable - claiming government benefits

- Avoiding a fare on public transport. – Never justifiable.

wvs - italy regions - justifiable - avoiding fare

- Cheating on taxes if you have a chance. – Never justfiable.

wvs - italy regions - justifiable - cheating on taxes

- Someone accepting a bribe in the course of their duties. – Never justifiable.

wvs - italy regions - justifiable - accepting a bribe

all italians — including southern italians — score much, much higher than mexicans on the claiming government benefits question — like by thirty to forty percentage points. similar story for avoiding a public fare, although lazio and tuscany in central italy scored only ca. ten to fifteen points higher than (white) mexicans in this case.

more italians — including sicilians — agree with mexicans on the cheating on taxes question. this time, lazio, tuscany, and lombardy all scored very much the same as mexicans. and all italians say that they are not tolerant of bribe taking much more so than mexicans — especially southern italians (sicilians and puglians) — even though they don’t seem to be able to (heh) put their money where their mouths are.

the interesting divide in italy appears to be not so much a north-south divide as a central area vs. north/south. while venice and lombardy in the north did tend to score highest most of the time, it was the central regions of tuscany and lazio that tended to score lowest, not the southern regions.
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what would be interesting to know is how these various groups (italians, swedes, etc.) feel about these issue in the united states — iow, how would italian-americans respond? i’ll try to see if i can find out. stay tuned!
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previously: mexican societal values and more nepotism in southern than in northern italy… and democracy in italy

(note: comments do not require an email. terracina duomo in lazia.)

why are the english so special? why do they have such a strong sense of individualism (see here and here and here and here)? or are so civic-minded? why do they live in (absolute) nuclear families? why are they not clannish or tribal? why are they so nonviolent — and why did their levels of violence start to decrease so long ago? how come it was the english who pretty much invented liberal democracy?

i think a lot of these things have to do with england’s outbreeding project which began sometime in the early medieval period (see here and here), but could there have been something special about the pre-christian anglo-saxons (or danes — think the danelaw — see this comment and subsequent discussion)? were they individualistic, civic-minded, living in nuclear family groups, not clannish or tribal, nonviolent, and liberally democratic? or, perhaps, predisposed to these things in some way?

well, i can hardly answer all of those in just a blog post (and, to be honest, i don’t know the answer to most of them), but i’ll try to address a couple of them by taking a look at anglo-saxon kinship (the anglo-saxons after they got to england). i’ll be mostly working from lorraine lancaster’s two articles: Kinship in Anglo-Saxon Society I and Kinship in Anglo-Saxon Society II. from what i can make out, lancaster’s work on anglo-saxon kinship between ca. the 600s-1000s, which was published in 1958, is still considered to be the definitive one — anything i read about anglo-saxon society and/or kinship always refers back to her. so, let’s see what she had to say.
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kinship terms for collateral kin

in this previous post, we saw how kinship terms amongst germans on the continent became less precise over the course of the middle ages. the different terms for “father’s brother” and “mother’s brother” were collapsed into a single term for “uncle.” similarly, previously existing differentiating terms for the various cousins — “father’s brother’s daughter” or “mother’s brother’s daughter” — got collapsed into just “cousin.”

there are probably a lot of good reasons for having separate, distinct terms for all your family members, but one of the most important ones (i think) is to distinguish for yourself and everybody around you who can marry whom (see also julian pitt-rivers’ “The Kith and the Kin”). so, in societies where a certain form of cousin marriage is preferred — like father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage amongst the arabs (see here) or mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage traditionally amongst the chinese (see here and here) — all of the cousins get specific names (this is known as the sudanese kinship form). (check out all the names for paternal and maternal relatives in the chinese kinship system!)

another way of naming kin is the system most common in the west, and the system we have in the english speaking world, and that is where we do not distinguish between different uncles or aunts or cousins. one’s cousin is one’s cousin, end of discussion. this is probably a result of the fact that, throughout the medieval period in europe, cousin marriage was prohibited by the church and frequently by secular authorities as well. since it became no longer necessary to distinguish one cousin from another — since ALL of them were off-limits to marry — they all eventually became known as simply “cousins” (or whatever term you happen use in your western european language). (this is known as the eskimo kinship form, btw — although why lewis h. morgan dubbed it that i don’t know since most of the eskimo groups i’ve read about don’t use this form!)

so what about the anglo-saxons in early medieval england? well, wikipedia tells us that they used the sudanese kinship system. and from lorraine lancaster [I - pg. 237]:

“There was a distinction drawn between ‘father’s brother’ and ‘mother’s brother’ which is not preserved in the modern English ‘uncle’ (<Latin *avunculus*). A father's brother was *fædera* and a mother's brother, *eam*…. The terms *nefa* and *genefa* seem to have been general ones, applicable to both a brother's and a sister's son, but *suhterga* and *geswiria* served to specify a brother's son and the term *swustorsunu* was, as its form suggests, only applicable to a sister's son.

“It is most significant that a term existed (*suhter-(ge)fæderan*) to refer to the relationship between a man and his father's brother. There was no special term to refer to the corresponding relationship on Ego's mother's side.

“The words *nift* and *nefena* appear to have applied to either a brother's or a sister's daughter, in the same manner as we use 'niece'. But the more specific terms *brodor-dohtor* (‘brother’s daughter’) and *sweostor-dohtor* (‘sister’s daughter’) were also used….

*Sugterga*, which we have already noted in the context of brother’s son, could also express the relationship of those whose fathers were brothers, that is, parallel cousins on the father’s side. Another term for this relationship was *fæderan sunu* (i.e. ‘father’s brother’s son’). The corresponding relationship of parallel cousins on the mother’s side could also be specifically denoted: The word *sweor* (also used for ‘father-in-law’) represented a cousin german, probably on the mother’s side, while such a cousin could be more accurately described as *gesweostrenu bearn* (‘child of sisters’) or *moddrian sunu* (‘mother’s sister’s son’).

this is very similar to the sort of cousin naming system that arabs today have — there aren’t unique words for “father’s brother’s son,” but the relationship is simply spelled out quite literally:

- father’s brother’s son = fæderan sunu = ibn ʿamm.

it’s likely, therefore, given the cousin naming system of the anglo-saxons — and the fact that the church offered dispensations to newly converted anglo-saxons who were married to their cousins, as well as the fact that many secular laws were passed in several of the anglo-saxon kingdoms banning cousin marriage (see here and here) — that cousin marriage was not uncommon amongst the pre-christian — and post-christian for a while! — anglo-saxons.

interestingly, lancaster points out that there weren’t any (many?) terms for more distant cousins in old english. there didn’t seem to be a way to say, for instance, “first cousin once-removed” amongst the anglo-saxons.

this leads into the idea of the anglo-saxon kindred (and their bilateral kinship reckoning) … which i’ll get into in my next post. stay tuned!

update 12/11: see also kinship in anglo-saxon society ii
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previously: english individualism and english individualism ii and english individualism iii and anglo-saxon mating patterns and more on anglo-saxon mating patterns

(note: comments do not require an email. the specials.)

posting’s gonna be light for a bit. i’m around … just putting my feet up. (^_^)

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