family types and the selection for nepotistic altruism

it finally clicked in my head while thinking about polygamy what the importance of family types — nuclear vs. extended, etc. — might be in the selection for altruistic behavioral traits, especially nepotistic altruism or clannishness. i should’ve thought through polygamy sooner instead of putting it off, but hey — procrastination is heritable, too, so in the words of h. solo, it’s not my fault! (~_^)

the logic of the mating patterns/inbreeding-outbreeding theory goes that, given the right set of circumstances (i.e. certain sorts of social environments), selection for nepotistic altruism/clannishness ought to go quicker or be amplified by inbreeding (close cousin marriage or uncle-niece marriage) simply because there will be more copies of any nepotistic altruism genes (alleles) that happen to arise floating around in kin groups. in other words, inbreeding should facilitate the selection for clannishness…if clannish behaviors are being selected for in a population.

the thing is, though: the individuals carrying certain versions (alleles) of nepotistic altruism genes need to direct their nepotistic behaviors towards other individuals carrying those same alleles, otherwise their actions will be for naught. (yeah. kin selection.) if they direct their nepotistic actions towards people who don’t share the same alleles, then the actions will be “wasted” and the behavioral traits won’t be selected for — or at least not very strongly — and they might fizzle out altogether.

let’s take an imaginary society as an example: say everyone in our pretend population always marries their first cousins. their father’s brother’s daughters (fbd) even, so that we get a lot of double-first cousin marriage. h*ck! let’s throw in some uncle-niece marriages on top of it all. the inbreeding coefficients in such a society would be very high, and if clannishness was being selected for in our highly inbred population, the selection ought to move pretty quickly.

but suppose we separated all the kids at birth from their biological families and set them out for adoption by unrelated individuals — people with whom they likely did not share the same nepotistic altruism alleles. think: the janissary system, only on a population-wide scale. if we did that, there should be virtually no selection for clannishness despite all the inbreeding since pretty much no one’s nepotistic behaviors would be directed towards other individuals with the same nepotistic altruism genes. in this case, kin selection would just not be happening.

such a society does not exist, and i don’t think ever has. but there are societies out there with certain family types — namely nuclear families (or even post-nuclear family societies!) — which ought to have a similar dampening effect on any selection for clannishness.

northwestern “core” europe has had very low cousin marriage rates since around the 800s-1000s, but it has also, thanks to manorialism, had nuclear families of one form or another (absolute or stem) since the early medieval period — nuclear families are recorded in some of the earliest manor property records in the first part of the ninth century from northeastern france [see mitterauer, pg. 59]. on the other hand, eastern europeans, like the russians and greeks, while they also seem to have avoided very close cousin marriage for several hundreds of years (which is not as long as northwestern europeans, but is quite a while), have tended to live in extended family groupings. you would think that nepotistic altruism could be selected for, or maintained more readily, in populations where extended family members lived together and interacted with one another on a more regular basis than in societies of nuclear family members where individuals interact more with non-kin. societies comprised of nuclear families are more like my hypothetical janissary society above where the altruism genes that might’ve been selected for via kin selection instead fade away in the wash.

we have to be careful, though, in identifying nuclear family societies. the irish of today, for instance, are typically said to be a nuclear family society, but the extended family does still interact A LOT (i can tell you that from first-hand experience). same holds true for the greeks and, i suspect, the southern italians. i would say that these populations have residential nuclear families, but not fully atomized nuclear families which have infrequent contact with extended family (think: the english). the early anglo-saxons in england were also characterized by residential nuclear families — the extended family (the kindred) was still very important in that society. the individuals in a residential nuclear family society probably do interact with non-family more than individuals in a society structured around extended families or clans, but less so than a true nuclear family society.

the thought for the day then?: family types can also affect the selection for clannishness/nepotistic altruism.

that is all! (^_^)

previously: polygamy, family types, and the selection for clannishness and “l’explication de l’idéologie”

(note: comments do not require an email. irish nuclear family.)

top ten list 2013

ok, so it’s not really ten posts but a baker’s dozen — and it’s not even thirteen posts but thirteen “themes” — so sue me! (^_^)

this “top ten” list was determined solely by me. ymmv.

clannishness – difficult to define, but i know it when i see it:
clannishness defined
clannishness
where do clans come from?
where do emmanuel todd’s family types come from?
mating patterns, family types, social structures, and selection pressures

individualism-collectivism – a curious paradox?:
individualism-collectivism
national individualism-collectivism scores
kandahar vs. levittown
universalism vs. particularism
universalism vs. particularism again

what a few hundred years of outbreeding might get you?:
renaissances
archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms

what a moderate amount of outbreeding (making you an in-betweener) might get you?:
the radical reformation

inbreeding, outbreeding, and democracy:
questions some of us thought to ask

inbreeding, outbreeding, and violence:
kinship, the state, and violence

why inbreeding or outbreeding?:
flatlanders vs. mountaineers revisited
consanguineous marriage in afghanistan
mating patterns in france and topography (and history)
the turkana: mating patterns, family types, and social structures
guess the population!

medieval germanic kindreds:
medieval germanic kindreds…and the ditmarsians
more on medieval germanic kindreds

the north sea populations – the anglo-saxons and the dutch:
the anglo-saxons and america 3.0
the saxons, the anglo-saxons, and america 3.0
the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society
the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe)
going dutch
“core europe” and human accomplishment

the quakers:
random notes: 07/30/13
the myddle people
geographical origin of the quakers
on the topographical origins of the quakers
quaker individualism

the irish:
what’s this all about?
early and late medieval irish mating practices
clannish medieval ireland
early modern and modern clannish ireland
mating patterns, family types, and clannishness in twentieth century ireland

the arabs:
historic mating patterns on the arabian peninsula
hejazis vs. najdis (and vice versa)

on (political) witch-hunts and the nature of witch-hunting:
“to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”
a loaded question
why human biodiversity is true…and why jason richwine is right
something’s rotten in the state of denmark
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– this was also the year of the hbd chick interview @the hoover hog! thanks, chip! (^_^)

– and the year that i got my very own (awesome!) Heroes of the Dark Enlightenment trading card from Radish Magazine!! awww, shucks. (*^_^*)

hbd chick trading card

– and, finally, it was also the year that i asked: where are my DRAGONS?! (^_^)

the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society

update 10/24: see bottom of post.

this will be my last post on the anglo-saxons for a while. i promise! the following comes from some notes on anglo-saxon kindreds and feuds that have been hanging around on my desktop for a while now, and since i recently had a couple of posts related to the anglo-saxons (see here and here), i thought i may as well share these as well.

in America 3.0, bennett and lotus say [pg. 51]:

The English are descended from the Germanic conquerors who brought to England the ‘integrated nuclear family,’ in which nuclear families formed separate households, but stayed close to their relatives for mutual cooperation and defense. These people were illiterate, so we have no written records from those times, and we cannot know precisely how they organized their family life. But what we do know for sure is that over time the original Germanic family type developed into the ‘Absolute Nuclear Family,’ or ‘ANF,’ which we have today. It appears that the family type we have now has existed for about a thousand years.”

i haven’t actually read anything about the family type(s) of either the continental angles and saxons or the early anglo-saxons in england, but i’ll take bennett and lotus’ word for it. however, later in the book they go on to say about the saxons [pg. 75]:

“They traced their lineages through both the male and female line. This prevented clans or extended families from forming and becoming exclusive, as happens when lineage is traced solely through the male line. As a result extended families or clans did not have collective legal rights, or any recognized political role.

while it is correct that the germanics had bilateral kinship and, so, didn’t have strong patrilineal clans (like the irish or the scots), as i’ve discussed in previous posts (see here and here), the germanics did have kindreds which were VERY important socially AND, crucially, legally. this very much includes the anglo-saxons in early medieval england.

in early anglo-saxon england, if you were injured or killed by another person, your kindred — your closest family members on both sides of your family, probably out to second cousins — were obliged to take up a blood feud against the offending party’s kindred if you/they were not compensated by the other kindred for your injury/murder in the form of wergeld payments. this was your kindred’s legal right — their duty, in fact, since this was how order was maintained in that clannish society. (vengeance feuds have been, and still are, a common solution to keeping order in clannish societies all around the world and throughout history. unfortunately, if the feuding gets out of hand, that can, of course, lead to disorder.)

from “The Kentish Laws” in The Anglo-Saxons from the Migration Period to the Eighth Century: An Ethnographic Perspective (1997) [pgs. 214-216]:

Large sections of the Kentish laws [all dating from the 600s] (as, in particular, the largest part of the law-code of Aethelberht) are devoted to the condition of feud which came to exist between the kindred of a man (killed, wounded, wronged, or robbed) and that of the man responsible (for the killing, wounding, wrongdoing, or stealing). Kindreds were to take charge of reparation and they could (with a few exceptions, for example, when the conflict was too close in blood-line) arrange either for vengeance or for the payment of compensation to the kin of the killed. Material compensation requited woundings and offences. The reparation (expressed by the Old English verbs *forgildan*, ‘to pay for’ and *gebetan*, ‘to amend’), is meant to recover the lost equilibrium and to maintain the *frid*, ‘peace’.

“The complex system of wergild, with its different levels, which were fixed in relation to the status of the offended person, is strictly connected with feud. Payment could be made in one or more installments: the *healsfang*, which was the first payment of the wergild (that is, the first twenty shillings of the hundred-shilling wergild of a freeman), must be paid *aet openum graefe*, ‘when the grave is still open’. All the details of the feud were regulated by law, which fixed the amount of composition and the time-schedule for payment.

“Two different opinions have been put forwards as regards Anglo-Saxon legislation concerning feud. According to some scholars the kinship system appears to have been made the subject of such a large amount of legislation because it did not work: the chapters of the laws concerned with feud, in all its aspects and details, testify to an increasing failure of family concern (cf. Bridbury 1992). Other scholars have expressed the opinion that feud maintained its importance and vitality well beyond the seventh century. The bond of kinship was undeniably very important in Anglo-Saxon society and the support of the kindred was needed in all aspects of a man’s life: ‘kinship remained immensely strong in ordinary social life’ (Loyn 1974:199); at the same time, however, a strong state-authority soon developed. Kinship appears to be still powerful in the laws of Aethelberht and in those of Hlothhere. If a homicide departed from the country, his kindred were responsible for paying half the wergild (Aebt. 23)….

In the later legal codes it becomes evident that the law attempted to control feud, as the higher authority of the king attempted to exercise some of the power that the kin used to enjoy. As for the Church, it encouraged settlements by composition rather than ‘vendetta’. Bede tells of the role of Theordore of Canterbury in the settlement of the feud between Mercians and Northumbrians after the killing of King Ecgfrith’s brother, Aelfwine. At the same time, the penitentials stressed the negative side of killing, including that perpetrated by a kinsman carrying out a vendetta. In the Penitential of Theodore we read: ‘Si quis pro ultione propinqui hominem occiderit peniteat sicut homicida VII vel X annos’ (If a man slays another one to avenge a relative, he shall do penance as a murderer for seven or ten years).”

so extended families in early anglo-saxon society most definitely had “collective legal rights” — and duties!

and don’t misunderstand this wergeld payment thing. it wasn’t just a whip round that happened within one kindred with the collected cash being passed over to a representative of the other kindred. no. it’s likely that EACH member of the offender’s kindred went and physically paid his corresponding member in the victim’s kindred — paternal uncle would pay paternal uncle, maternal first cousin would pay maternal first cousin, and so on (that’s how wergeld payments happened in iceland anyway and, so it’s supposed, in the other germanic societies). THAT’s how important an individual’s kindred was. in the event of (serious) bodily injury or a killing, TWO WHOLE kindreds would be involved in the resolution.

in Kindred and clan in the Middle Ages and after: a study in the sociology of the Teutonic races (1913), bertha phillpotts argued that kindreds had more or less disappeared in england by the 600-700s, but most historians since phillpotts’ time (except for bridbury above) — like lorraine lancaster — put the date later at around ca. 1000 or 1100. this is the earliest point in anglo-saxon law tracts in which the law allows for an individual’s guild rather than kindred to be the recipient of wergeld payments — or the executor of a feud. this is a monumental shift in thinking (and feeling) in anglo-saxon society, afaiac — this is THE change from anglo-saxon society being based upon the extended family to english society being based upon friends and associates. this is HUGE.

anglo-saxon and other early medieval kings (like the frankish kings in bavaria) tried throughout the early medieval period to dampen the power of the kindreds, especially the feuding, since all that fighting seriously gets in the way of building a productive society. in the 900s, edmund i, for instance, attempted to restrict vengeance feuding to just the individual rather than whole kindreds — he issued a law exempting the kindred members from feuds if they abandoned their troublemaking kinsman [pgs. 39-40]. it was worth a shot, but probably didn’t much diminish the kindreds’ desires for revenge:

“[T]hese very efforts or aspirations reveal counter-pressures, the continuing use of violent self-help motivated by vengenance, the continuing involvement of kin and others. There must have been resistance, unconscious and conscious, to the extension of royal authority.”

indeed, feuds continued in england throughout at least the 1000s. what changed, though, was who took up the feuds — the gegildan, or the unrelated friends/associates of an individual who were his fellow oath takers. the gegildan appears in some of the anglo-saxon laws in the late-800s as an alternative group of people to whom wergeld might be paid if the wronged individual had no kin. by the 900s, though, in southern england, the gegildan might be the only group that received wergeld, bypassing kin altogether. from Wage Labor and Guilds in Medieval Europe [pgs. 39-42]:

“The laws of King Alfred of Wessex, dated to 892-893 or a few years earlier, are more informative about the *gegildan*. Again, the context is murder and the wergild — the compensation required for the crime. By Alfred’s time, if not during Ine’s, the *gegildan* is clearly a group of associates who were not related by blood. The clearest example of this is in chapter 31 of the laws: ‘If a man in this position is slain — if he has no relatives (maternal or paternal) — half the wergild shall be paid to the king, and half to the *gegildan*.’ No information exists on the purpose of the *gegildan* other than its role as a substitute for kinship ties for those without any relatives. These associates, who presumably were bound together by an oath for mutual protection, if only to identify who was responsible, would benefit anyone, whether the person had relatives or not…. Although the evidence from the laws of Ine may be read either way, the *gegildan* seems to be an old social institution. As seen more clearly in the tenth and eleventh centuries, it acquired additional functions — a policing role and a religious character.

“The nobles, clergy, and commoners of London agreed upon a series of regulations for the city, with the encouragement and approval of King Athelstan, who caused the rules to be set down some time in the late 920s or 930s. The primary purpose of these ordinances was to maintain peace and security in the city, and all those supporting these goals had solemnly pledged themselves to this *gegildan*. This type of inclusive guild, sometimes referred to as a peace guild, was an attempt to create one more additional level of social responsibility to support the king and his officials in keeping the peaces. This social group of every responsible person in London is a broad one, and the law does not use the term *gegildan* to describe the association in general….

“The idea of a guild to keep the peace was not limited to London, and a document from the late tenth century contains the rules and duties of the thegn‘s guild in Cambridge. This guild appears to have been a private association, and no king or noble is mentioned as assenting to or encouraging this group. Most of the rules concern the principle purposes of this guild — the security of the members, which receives the most attention, and the spiritual benefits of membership itself. The guild performed the tasks of the old *gegildan*: the members were obliged to defend one another, collect the wergild, and take up vengeance against anyone refusing to pay compensation. The members also swore an oath of loyalty to each other, promising to bring the body of a deceased member to a chosen burial site and supply half the food for the funeral feast. For the first time, another category of help was made explicit — the guild bound itself to common almsgiving for departed members — and the oath of loyalty the members swore included both religious and secular affairs. Although in many respects this guild resembles a confraternity along the lines Hincmar established for the archdiocese of Rheims, the older purpose of the group — mutual protection with its necessary threat of vengeance — makes the Anglo-Saxon guild something more than a prayer meeting. To include almsgiving to members in distress would be a small step, given the scope of activities this guild established. There is no sign that the thegns cooperated in any economic endeavors, but older rules of rural society had already determined methods of sharing responsibility in the villages, and the thegns cooperated on everything that was important in their lives. The thegns of Cambridge had a guild that resembles in some important ways the communal oath, that will be discussed below, of some Italian cities in the next century.”

fantastically, by the twelfth century it appears that many of the terms related to the feud were not understood and no longer really used by legal scholars and scribes [pg. 43]. in the space of about three hundred years, then — from the 900s to the 1100s — feuding in southern england seems to have gone from a regular activity engaged in by relatives, to something that a group of friends might do for one another, to eventually pretty much dying out altogether [pgs. 49-52]. but not in wales. or northern england:

What is also clear, however, is that by the twelfth century, and perhaps before, England was perceived as an area of particular peace. Authors contrasted such peace with the disorder of other areas. Writing at the end of the twelfth century, Gerald of Wales commented on the Welsh greed for land, stating that ‘law-cases in court and quarrels result, killings and arson, and frequent fratricides’, a situation he thought was made worse by the custom of partible inheritance.

“Can we tell if perception corresponded with reality? There is certainly a strong case to be made that the core of the English king’s lands differed in their practices from the periphery, most notably Northumbria. The violent dispute narrated by the ‘De obsessione’ may be the product of particular circumstances rather than a rare survival of a more general English pheonomenon. At the highest level of Northumbrian society, killing certainly was more frequent than elsewhere in England. It has been pointed out that ‘of the fourteen men to rule part or all of Northumbria between 993 and 1076, nine were killed, four had an unknown fate, and only one, Earl Siward, is thought to have died from natural causes.’ As John of Worcester’s account of the killing of Bishop Walcher of Durham in 1080 makes clear, the death of even post-Conquest rulers of Northumbria took place in a context of insult, killing, negotiation, and vengeance. If Northumberland was different, various explanations can be offered, from its geography and economy to the lack of royal presence and the conflicts between the earls and those responsible for Yorkshire.

“Difference from practices in Celtic lands may have existed well before the time of Gerald of Wales. ‘Domesday’ records the following custom under Archenfield of Herefordshire:

“‘If anyone kills one of the king’s men and commits housebreaking [*heinfaram*], he give the king 20s concerning payment for the man and 100s concering the wrong. If anyone kills a thegn’s man, he gives 10s to the dead man’s lord. But [*quod*] if a Welshmand kills a Welshman, the relatives of the slain man gather and despoil [*predantur*] the killer and his associates [*propinquos*] and burn their houses until the body of the dead man is buried the next day about noon. The king has the third part of this plunder, but they have all the rest free.’

Feud in Wales would continue beyond the twelfth century.

and in highland scotland until the 1500s. and in ireland in the form of “faction fighting” until the 1700- and early-1800s.
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so, even though they may have been living in nuclear family units, early anglo-saxons were very much tied to their extended families (kindreds) legally — and, presumably, socially — and those ties didn’t dissipate until around ca. 1000-1200, some six to eight hundred years after they settled in england. i have my own ideas as to why that was — and most of you know what they are, so i won’t repeat them now (you’re welcome! (~_^) ). a couple of important things to keep in mind, though:

– family types must be looked at in context — for instance, just because a group lives in nuclear family units does not necessarily mean that its members don’t have strong ties with their extended family;

– kinship ties are not broken quickly and certainly not via laws that only address the superficial symptoms of those ties (like feuds) — the fundamentals must be changed (and those fundamentals are mating patterns, i think … sorry! couldn’t resist saying it. (^_^) )
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*update 10/24: i meant to say in the post, and i forgot (typical), that bennett and lotus acquired a lot of their info about — and have based much of their thinking on — anglo-saxon family types and the importance of the nuclear familiy in anglo-saxon society from f.w. maitland‘s historical work on english law.

i haven’t read maitland, so i can’t comment on any of it, but i will do one of these days and will no doubt post about it. if you want to get a head start on me, check out these sources (h/t michael lotus – thanks, michael!):

F.W. Maitland And The Making Of The Modern World [pdf] from alan macfarlane.
The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, 2 vols. [1898] by pollack and maitland. see vol II, ch VI, first 10 pgs re the kindred per michael lotus.
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previously: the anglo-saxons and america 3.0 and the saxons, the anglo-saxons, and america 3.0 and medieval germanic kindreds…and the ditmarsians and more on medieval germanic kindreds and kinship in anglo-saxon society and kinship in anglo-saxon society ii

(note: comments do not require an email. hold on!)

becoming anglo-saxon

update 10/17: some extra notes in the comments about the gss data here and here. thanks for the thought-filled comments, guys! (^_^)
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bennett and lotus (in America 3.0) have the very right idea that anglo-saxons have been living in absolute nuclear families and behaving very “anglo-saxony” for centuries, but they’ve got, imho, the very wrong idea that if other peoples, non-anglo-saxon peoples, just start living like anglo-saxons in absolute nuclear families, they will — via some sort of cultural osmosis or something — start behaving all anglo-saxony, too. i’m not convinced. where, i would ask, is the evidence for this?

in the comments to one of my previous posts on this subject, i pointed out that, for example, italian american families, most of which have been in the u.s. for multiple generations now, are mostly absolute nuclear families — at least they appear to be on the surface. however, italian americans are really strongly attached to their extended families in ways that anglo-americans simply are not. here’s what i said (or, rather, what i quoted):

from “Community and Identity in Italian American Life” in The Review of Italian American Studies (2000) [pgs. 250-251]:

“Family gatherings…are still part of Italian American life….

“Italian Americans, even the more affluent, remain in inner-city enclaves more than other groups do. When Italian Americans do move, many times two or more generations are involved in the exodus to a new suburban residence. If they do not locate together, Italian American family members find residences within short distances of one another. When upwardly mobile children leave their inner-city parents for the suburbs, they visit them more than any other group. When leaving the extended family, Italian Americans most often move into some modified extended family arrangement characterized by continual economic and social exchanges. Similarly, Italian American middle- and working-class children are more likely to take geographical proximity to the family into account when considering college attendance. Contemporary Italian American youth spread their wings, but not too far.

“Although crude survey data indicate that Italian Americans are increasingly intermarrying, these measures miss the reality that many times it is the non-Italian marriage partner who is drawn into the powerful magnet of the Italian American family. In addition, intermarriage need no diminish the ethnicity of the Italian American partner nor does it mean necessarily that the offspring will not be reared in the Italian American way. Italian Americans are more entrepreneurial than most; family businesses, by definition, provide not only income and independence from outsiders but also keep the family together. Socially mobile Itlaian Americans are willing to sacrifice some career and employment opportunities in order to stay within the orbit of family life.”

and from The Italian American Experience (2000) [pgs. 210-211, 373-374]:

“For a long time, it was believed that this sequence was inevitably moving toward the complete absorption of Italian Americans….

“While intermarriage rates have remained lower than for other groups, exogamy among Italian Americans has greatly increased. Divorce rates, even for the most recent generation, remain very low compared to all other ethnic groups. Italian Americans still maintain a pattern of relatively frequent family contacts, with some studies actually indicating an increase in visiting among relatives for later generations. The strength of family ties has been identified as a deterrent to residential mobility and as a factor in the maintenance of Italian American neighborhoods….

“For Italians, family is an all-consuming ideal as is expressed by Luigi Barzini, among many others. For Italian Americans, ‘families’ usually include grandparents, whose influence on family life can be great….

“*L’ordine della familia*, which connotes precise boundaries, role expectations, and clear values for right and wrong behavior, is taught at a very early age and includes:

“- Always respecting parents and grandparents;
– Placing family needs first, staying physically and psychologically close to other members;
– Not talking about the family to outsiders;
– Sometimes maintaining secrets between family members to maintain personal boundaries; other family members do not need to know everythings, particularly if it will cause harm;
– Showing respect for authority outside of the family, but not trusting it;
– and Working hard, but also enjoying life; livining well is sharing food, music, and companionship with those one loves.”

yeah. just like in every sopranos episode that you ever saw. (~_^) why, then, don’t italian americans behave just like anglo americans? they’ve been in the u.s. a pretty long time now … and they live in absolute nuclear families. ‘sup?
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so i thought i’d check the gss (General Social Survey) to see how anglo-saxony italian americans are. unfortunately, the gss numbers for italian americans with all four grandparents born in the u.s. (in other words, being at least third generation or more, which ought to make one really american, right?) are really tiny. dr*t.

so, i decided to look at german and irish americans instead in comparison to english/welsh americans — to see how anglo-saxony those two groups have become (quick answer for those tl:dr folks out there [SPOILER ALERT!]: not very).

before we start, though, t. greer recently pointed out the ever-present problem in these self-reported sort-of surveys and that is that we’re relying on how the respondents “identify” ethnically. how “german” are any of the “german americans” in the gss? who knows? however, the same problem should apply, i would think, across the board here with the self-identified english/welsh, german, and irish americans (i purposefully have NOT used the “just american” category since i want to get at how anglo americans behave), so it should all even out (i hope).

i’ve picked out questions that related to: “civicness” (see previous posts here and here for more on what that is), because the english are VERY civic-minded; “familism” (see here and here), because the english are NOT very familistic; and a couple of ones related to ideas about government and the u.s. that i thought sounded pretty anglo-saxony and that i just found interesting. let’s start with those.

for all of these questions, i’ve shown the results for respondents with all four grandparents born in the u.s. AND for all respondents — just because i can (and i thought it might be interesting to compare). for ethnicity i selected the “COUNTRY OF FAMILY ORIGIN [ETHNIC]” parameter. [click on charts for LARGER view.]

should we “Allow public meeting protesting the government” [PROTEST 1]?:

gss - anglo saxons - allow public meetings protesting government 02

england/wales: n=455 for all/n=244 for 4 grandparents
germany: n=604/n=248
ireland: n=412/n=151

should we “Allow publications protesting the government” [PROTEST 2]?:

gss - anglo saxons - allow publications protesting government 02

same n’s as above.

“How close do you feel to America” [CLSEUSA]?”:

gss - anglo saxons - how close do you feel to america

england/wales: n=262/n=205
germany: n=367/n=242
ireland: n=245/n=170

wtf german americans?!

so on those three questions there’s anywhere from a four to a fourteen point spread between the responses of german and irish americans versus anglo americans, with anglo americans consistently being more pro allowing protests against the government of different sorts and more pro american. i agree, four points is not much of a difference, but fourteen is — and, as you’ll see below, this is a consistent pattern, i.e. that third+ generation anglo americans are more anglo-saxony than either third+ generation german americans or irish americans.
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the familism questions (again, see previous posts on familism here and here). for all of these:

england/wales: n=96/n=72
germany: n=150/n=100
ireland: n=106/n=70

“How often does R[espondent] contact uncles or aunts [UNCAUNTS]?”:

gss - anglo saxons - how often contact uncles aunts

“How often does R contact nieces or nephews [NIECENEP]?”:

gss - anglo saxons - how often contact nieces nephews

“How often does R contact cousin [COUSINS]?”:

gss - anglo saxons - how often contact cousins

the differences in the familism scores, then, are not that great. still, with the exception of “how often contact nieces/nephews”, both the german and irish american scores reflect greater familism on their part than on the anglo americans. slightly greater, but greater nevertheless.
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finally, the civicness questions (again, see previous posts on civicness here and here). for all of these:

england/wales: n=96, n=72
germany: n=150, n=100
ireland: n=106, n=70

“Participated in a charitable organization in past 12 months [GRPCHRTY]”:

gss - anglo saxons - charitable organization

“Participated in activity of a political party [GRPPOL]”:

gss - anglo saxons - political party

“Participated in activity of a political party [GRPUNION]”:

gss - anglo saxons - trade union

“Participated in activity of church in past 12 months [GRPCHURH]”:

gss - anglo saxons - church

“Participated in sports group in past 12 months [GRPSPORT]”:

gss - anglo saxons - sports group

so, again, with the exception of participation in a sports group, the anglo americans score higher than the other two groups on all of the questions. the differences range from just two points to eighteen. in the case of sports, german americans scored just a tad (one point) higher in participation than anglo americans and irish americans four points, but anglo americans are out in front on the other four civic behaviors.

you might be thinking that the not-all-that-great differences in civicness scores between these three groups illustrates that german and irish americans are, in fact, becoming more like anglo americans. (why it should be taking so long is curious though — these are THIRD+ generation groups after all.) however, if we look at the very same questions from the world values survey (2005-2008 wave), we find the SAME pattern!: great britain ahead of germany on all the civicness metrics. (unfortunately, ireland was not included in this wvs wave.) (see also previous post.)

great britain: n=1012-1035
germany: n=2039-2050

note that non-whites are included in these figures. ethnicity was, apparently, not asked in germany, because … well, you know … everybody’s the same, so i didn’t parse out non-whites from the results for britain, either. doesn’t seem to make much difference to the scores — one point here and there — since there are not that many non-whites included in the british survey.

gss - anglo saxons - wvs civicness metrics

as you can see, same patterns again: great britain ahead of germany on all of these civicness measurements. and the differences between the two populations — the (mostly) anglos in britain and the (mostly) germans in germany — are very similar to the differences between the two populations in the u.s. — AFTER THREE+ GENERATIONS of being in the u.s.!:

– charitable organization: u.s.=11%, euro=21%
– political party: u.s.=6%, euro=6%
– trade union: u.s.=5%, euro=8%
– church: u.s.=3%, euro=1%
– sports group: u.s.=1% (higher in germany), euro=5%

i strongly suspect that german americans are not becoming like anglo americans, or if they are, it’s NOT happening very quickly. german americans:anglo americans::germans:anglos. nor do i see any reason to think that other groups like the irish or the italians are becoming anglo-saxons either.
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the evidence i’ve presented is not conclusive. obviously. (it’s just a blog post!) Further Research is RequiredTM.

anglo-saxons — or the english of today — have been living in absolute nuclear families for a very long time, but this is more of a symptom of anglo-saxonness than its cause (although there undoubtedly has been feedback between the family type and societal structures). it took the anglo-saxons a looong time to get from being a kindred-based germanic “tribe” to the anglo-saxony individualistic-collectivistic english society that we know today (and have known since about the 1200s-1400s). it’s going to take other societies a similarly looong time to get to the same place — if they will even ever get to exactly the same place — since we are talking about biological processes here including the selection for certain behavioral traits. simply plunking germans — let alone italians (especially southern italians!) — down in absolute nuclear families will NOT turn them into anglos overnight. apparently it won’t even turn them into anglos in three+ generations.

no. anglo-saxons are exceptional. innately so. we should try not to destroy that, since it benefits so many of us.

previously: the anglo-saxons and america 3.0 and the saxons, the anglo-saxons, and america 3.0 and civic societies and civic societies ii and hispanic family values and familism in the u.s. of a.

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random notes: 07/30/13

from A Brief History of Great Britain (2010) [pages xiv-xvi]:

“Britain is marked by pronounced regional differences. The most basic division is that between highland areas and lowland areas. The ‘highland zone’ is defined by being over 200 meters (656 feet) above sea level. Highland zones are found in Wales, much of Scotland, northern England, and parts of southwestern England, although lowland pockets exist in highland territories. The British highland zone is not really mountainous, as the highest mountains reach the mode height of roughly 4000 feet (1,129 meters). There is a much higher proportion of highland land in Scotland than in England, and the difference between the highlands and the lowlands and their inhabitants plays a central role in Scottish history and culture.

The highlands are marked by a greater emphasis on pastoralism, as they have mostly chalky soil and are too wet and cold for successful agriculture. The highlands are also much less densely populated than the lowlands, as it requires much more land to support a human being through pastoralism than through agriculture. Lowland areas are usually more fertile. The most fertile lowlands are in the south and southeast of Britain, where there is rich, heavy soil more suited to agriculture. Lowlanders can engage in raising either grains or livestock, depending on circumstances. In the Middle Ages much of the lowlands was truned over to the highly profitable production of wool. Lowlanders tended to live in villages, highlanders in small hamlets or isolated farmsteads, or to be nomadic.

“Invasions of Britain had much less effect on the highlands than on the lowlands, which constituted the really valuable prize due to their greater agricultural productivity. Those regimes exercising power throughout Britain or the British Isles were usually based in lowland England, the only place capable of supporting tehm. The extension of power from the lowlands to the highlands was a difficult challenge due to the difficulty of the terrain. Mountainous Wales preserved its independence for centuries despite its poverty and its inability to unite politically. The only invaders to subdue Wales before the 13th century were the well-organized and disciplined Roman legions, and it took them years after the conquest of England. The less-organized Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans had a much harder time, and Wales was only permanently annexed to England in 1284.

“The greater poverty of the highlands meant that highlanders often raided lowlanders, creating hostility between the two. The highlands were also more culturally and linguistically conservative. Cultural innovations usually originated in the lowlands and spread to the highlands. The highlands were where the Celtic languages lasted the longest, as English and its offshoots, originally the language of Anglo-Saxon invaders, became the dominant tongue of the lowlands in the early Middle Ages. This cultural division further added to the hostility between highland and lowland peoples.”
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from The Environment of Early Man in the British Isles (1975) [pgs. 147-149]:

“The Highland Zone/Lowland Zone division

“It is from this time [late bronze/early iron age] onwards that the division of the British Isles into Highland and Lowland Zones becomes relevant. The division has been used by geographers to explain differences in settlement patterns, farming practices and the quality of material culture between the two zones, and Cyril Fox exploited it to a considerable extent in ‘The Personality of Britain’.

“In brief, the Highland Zone (Fig. 62) is that part of the British Isles which is made up of the most ancient group of rocks, those formed in the Paleozoic Era. They lie in the north and west and the division with the later Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks of the Lowland Zone falls roughly on a line from the mouth of the Tees to the mouth of the Exe. The Palaeozoic rocks are generally hard, forming mountainous regions, with continuous streches over 300 metres above sea level. Plains and vales are not extensive. There are steep slopes and crags making cultivation difficult or impossible, and soils are often thin, stony and impoverished. Rainfall is high and there is a strong correspondence between the chief moorland areas and mean annual rainfall.

“Lowland Britain, on the other hand, is made up of geologically younger rocks which are softer, and which have given rise to a series of low-lying, rolling hills and intervening extensive vales and plains. Slopes are gentle, crags few and almost all the land is available for tillage, pasture or settlement. Soils are generally fertile and there is little evidence of erosion. Rainfall is light and there is little waste ground.

“But there are many topographical exceptions, in particular various lowland areas within the Highland Zone. Some of these are relatively small — the Vale of Glamorgan, the Hebridean machair and certain fertile river valleys such as Strath Tay. Others are of much greater extent, including the Central Scottish Lowlands, East Banff and Aberdeen, and the Orkney Islands. Ireland can be divided topographically into its own Highland and Lowland Zoens, and presents an anomaly in that approximately half the country is essentially lowland but situated in a high rainfall area….

“Indeed, the key distinction between the Highland and Lowland Zones is not so much elevation and topography as rainfall which is greatest in the west (Fig. 62) since this is the direction from which the main rain-bearing winds blow….

britain - lowland-highland zones

“[F]or a variety of economic and environmental reasons, the first millennium bc represents a period of significant change in the Highland Zone. Fields were abandoned and either reverted to pasture or waste ground, or became covered by peat. In low-lying areas communications became difficult because of mire formation or flooding. The importance of stone and Highland Zone metal deposits dwindled. And there was no great exploitation of timber for iron smelting as occurred in the Lowland Zone. Indeed, it is from the beginning of the Iron Age that the Highland Zone as a whole assumes the pastoral character which it has retained ever since.

“‘It is generally understood that…the remains of the monuments and material costructed or used throughout Britain reveal no noticeable differences in quality between the lowland and highland areas until well into the first millennium bc, but that thereafter a contrast developed between the two areas, comprising a falling-off of the material culture of the highland in comparison with that of the lowland — a contrast which has lasted to the present day.'”
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look! another line – the tees-exe line (the red one):

tees-exe line
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from The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (1989, 2006) [pgs. 18-19]:

“To draw attention to this fact [i.e. that much of the pre-roman british isles was a part of a broader european celtic culture] is not to say that there was political and social uniformity throughout the area. The existence of tribal groupings in both Britain and Ireland is an indication of political differences at the local level. The Romans, to whom we are indebted for Latin versions of tribal names in the absence of their original Celtic forms, distinguished over twenty tribes in Britain south of the Forth. In Ireland, where politcal aggregation had not gone as far as it had elsewhere, the number of tribes seems to have been much larger.

“One powerful cause of variety was geography, in particular the contrast between Highland and Lowland Zones. It was Sir Cyril Fox who argued in his book ‘The Personality of Britain’ (1932) that the Lowlands would usually be exposed to forces of change before the Highlands. The Highland/Lowland contrast certainly makes good sense when applied to Britain, where north and west form a distinctive geographical area, including a good deal of land over 400 metres above sea-level. Poorer soil and climatic conditions made agriculture more of a challenge in the Highland Zone than it was in the south and east. In a British Isles context, however, the Highland/Lowland contrast is not quite so clear. Ireland, which has been compared to a saucer in which the rim represents the hills and the flat base the central plain, is not, geologically speaking, a Highland Zone. There is no doubt, however, that the narrow seas between north-west Ireland and south-west Scotland linked rather than divided them. At this particular period, however, it may be seen as forming part of a ‘cultural Highland Zone’, cut off, for better or worse, from the influence of the rising military power of Rome.

“Geographical determinism should not be pressed too far, however. It can also be argued that, under certain conditions, the Irish Sea provided a channel of communication…. It also seems to have been the case during the fifth and sixth centuries AD when Christian communities on both sides of the Irish Sea retained their links with Christian Europe at a time when the eastern half of Britain was being overrun by Germanic settlers. The Irish presence in Scotland in the sixth century AD and in parts of Wales illustrates the same point….

Another contrast between the Highland and Lowland Zones was almost certainly demographic. No firm statistical evidence exists but several strong indicators suggest that there was a considerable increase of population in the Lowlands from the fifth century onwards, well before the Belgic invasions. A good deal of internal colonisation seems to have taken place during this period….”
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from The Culture of the English People: Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution (1994) [pgs. 5-7]:

“Some fifty years ago Sir Cyril Fox published one of the most seminal books in the history of British archaeology and culture, ‘The Personality of Britain’. In it he distinguished two parts of these islands, a ‘highland’ zone and a ‘lowland’ zone, with a boundary between them which ran from County Durham to Lyme Bay on the south coast (Fig. 1.1). This line separated a predominantly hilly region of Paleozoic rocks from a gentler region of Secondary and later rocks. These two regions, he argued, corresponded with two differing modes of cultural evolution. Simply expressed, his argument was that the bearers of outside cultural influences reached the Highland Zone often by sea and almost always in small numbers. Their impact was never sufficient to blanket or submerge the indigenous cultures. Instead they became assimilated. Elements of older cultures are today not only present, but conspicuously so in Highland Britain. Lowland Britain, by contrast, lay at the receiving end of a long series of invasions, from those who walked across the landbridge which once existed with Europe to the more recent invasions of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Each wave was powerful enough to impress its own culture, and thus to mask or to destroy pre-existing cultures. Fox commented on the relative ease with which new civilizations are established in the Lowland Zone, repressing without necessarily obliterating those which had prevailed before. ‘There is [thus] greater unity of culture in the Lowland Zone, but greater continuity in the Highland Zone.’

“The Fox model has not been without its critics. Some, including the present writer, would interpose a third zone covering the basically claylands of the English Midlands, between the Highland and the Lowland, with its own distinctive cultural history. But, however modified, the Fox model has been of incalculable imortance to a cultural history of these islands. It gives a rational explanation for a phenomenon which will recur in the pages of this book, namely the persistence of early cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural homogeneity in the lowlands of the south and east.”

england - lowland-midland-highland zones
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previously: this one’s for g.w. and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

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runs of homozygosity in the irish population

so, after all my rambling about the historic mating patterns amongst the native irish, how inbred are the irish really?

from Population structure and genome-wide patterns of variation in Ireland and Britain:

[O]ur results suggest that the Irish population has the largest proportion of the genome in ROH (as measured by FROH1), relative to the British and HapMap CEU populations examined here (Figure 3).”

the members of the ceu population are mormons in utah. here is figure 3 — click on images for LARGER view:

ireland - roh01 - o'dushlaine et al

Figure 3 – FROH1 patterning in Irish, British and Swedish populations. Box plots represent (a) the number and (b) the summed size of segments of the autosomal genome that exists in ROH of 1 Mb or greater in length (ie, FROH1). The bars represent mean and confidence intervals, as per a standard box plot (box indicating the 25th–75th percentile of the FROH1 distribution, line within box representing the median and ends of the whiskers representing the 5th–95th percentiles). Outliers are represented by diamonds.”

so the irish: more AND longer roh or runs of homozygosity (1 Mb in length or greater) than the english, the utah mormons, scots in aberdeen, or the swedes — in that order (if i’m not mistaken). so the english here are the most outbred (what have i been saying?), while the irish are the most inbred.

more from the paper:

“Overall, the Irish and Swedish populations seem slightly different from the others in the context of ROH. Both the Irish and Swedish populations showed, on an average, a greater number of ROH, an increased maximum ROH length, as well as an increased proportion of the genome in homozygous runs, compared with that of the Scottish, southern English and Utah populations. Similarly, the mean level of individual autozygosity per population as measured by FROH22 was highest for the Irish group (Figure 4). Together, these results suggest slightly increased autozygosity in the Irish cohort compared with the British and Swedish cohorts.”

here’s figure 4:

ireland - roh02 - o'dushlaine et al

Figure 4 – Mean FROH1 and FROH5 patterning in Irish, British and Swedish populations. See Figure 1 legend for population identifiers. Y-axis indicates the average proportion of the autosomal genome covered by FROH1 or FROH5 (see Materials and Methods for definition of FROH).

“Autozygosity is generated by increased levels of kinship, which in turn reflects the population history of Ireland. Although relatively undisturbed by secondary migrations, the population of Ireland has undergone expansions and contractions at numerous points in recent history (eg, two major famines since 1600, disease epidemics, expansion in the first half of the 19th century). Aside from these features, the increased autozygosity may also reflect legacies of Gaelic family structures and comparatively low levels of migration that are in part due to a lack of industrial revolution in Ireland.

“To test a hypothesis of increased autozygosity due to features of relatively recent population history, we examined the patterning of homozygosity looking for signals of parental relatedness over the last four or five generations. Previous work has illustrated that parental relatedness arising within four to six generations predominantly affects ROH over 5 Mb in length.22 We therefore compared this statistic across populations. Results show that the Irish and Swedish populations have around 10 times as much of their genomes in ROH over 5 Mb in length than the southern English, and 1.5–3 times as much as Scotland and Utah (Figure 4)….

“Analysis of ROH is a powerful method to gauge the extent of ancient kinship and recent parental relationship within a population. This is because ROH arise from shared parental ancestry in an individual’s pedigree. The offspring of cousins have very long ROH, commonly over 10 Mb, whereas at the other end of the spectrum, almost all Europeans have ROH of ∼2 Mb in length, reflecting shared ancestry from hundreds to thousands of years ago. By focussing on ROH of different lengths, it is therefore possible to infer aspects of demographic history at different time depths in the past.22 We used FROH measures to compare and contrast patterning across populations. These measures are genomic equivalents of the pedigree inbreeding coefficient, but do not suffer from problems of pedigree reconstruction. By varying the lengths of ROH that are counted, they may be tuned to assess parental kinship at different points in the past. We used two different measures, FROH1, which includes all ROH over 1 Mb and hence includes information on recent and background parental relatedness, and FROH5, which sums ROH over 5 Mb in length, more typical of a parental relationship in the last four to six generations.22 Our FROH1 results indicate slightly elevated levels in the Irish and Swedish populations (compared with southern England, Scotland and HapMap CEU) of both the overall number of ROH and the proportion of genome in ROH (see Figure 3). This pattern was exaggerated when we restricted analysis to ROH greater than 5 Mb in length (ie, FROH5, see Figure 4), indicating increased levels of parental relatedness in the last six generations in the Irish and Swedish populations compared with other populations tested in this study. When we remove individuals with ROH over 5 Mb from the FROH1 analysis (Supplementary Figure S5), Ireland remains as the population with the most homozygous runs and the longest sum length of homozygosity. This provides further evidence that the elevated proportion of shorter ROH, and hence the number of ancient pedigree loops in Ireland, is indeed real and not driven by a limited number of offspring of cousins.

recent cousin matings, they mean.

so, if you look at figure 4, both the irish and the swedes have way more roh of over 5 Mb in lenth than the english (who have a really miniscule amount), the scots in aberdeen, or the mormons in utah (ceu) — in that order. in this instance, the swedes appear to have the most roh over 5 Mb, but as the authors say, when they removed the over 5 Mb individuals from the samples (i.e. the individuals most likely to be the offspring of recent cousin marriages), the irish wind up having the most and the longest roh over 1 Mb in length, so they win the overall inbreeding prize for these groups.

what the authors overlook, i think, is the longer term mating patterns of these populations. i think that the english in this study (and, it should be noted, that these are described as individuals from the south and southeast of england) have miniscule amounts of roh in their genomes because, out of all these groups, they have been outbreeding the longest (see “mating patterns in europe series” ↓ below in left-hand column) — since the early part of the middle ages, in fact. the irish and the swedes, on the other hand, have more roh because they started outbreeding much later (and, probably, too, because, like other northern populations, they’re somewhat remote and small in size) — the swedes sometime after they converted to christianity in — when was it? — ca. 1000 a.d.? and the irish, as i’ve shown in the last few posts on irish mating patterns, not until sometime towards the late medieval period — as late as the 1500s possibly.

the implication of all this is, because the irish and the swedes (and other groups in europe) inbred for longer than the english (and some of the french and dutch and germans), their societies would’ve remained clan- or extended-family based for longer than those of the english et al., and so would’ve been under different sorts of selection pressures from their social environment.
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update: Supplementary Figure S5 – when the researchers removed the individuals with roh over 5Mb, i.e. those individuals who were most likely to be the offspring of cousins (see comments):

ireland - roh03 - o'dushlaine et al

previously: runs of homozygosity and inbreeding (and outbreeding) and western europeans, runs of homozygosity (roh), and outbreeding and russians, eastern europeans, runs of homozygosity (roh), and inbreeding and early and late medieval irish mating practices and clannish medieval ireland and inbreeding in europe’s periphery and early modern and modern clannish ireland and meanwhile, in ireland… and drinkin’ and fightin’ songs and mating patterns, family types, and clannishness in twentieth century ireland and inbreeding in ireland in modern times

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mating patterns, family types, and clannishness in twentieth century ireland

and you thought i was finished posting about the irish. nope! that’s why darth is still up there ↑ sipping his guinness! (~_^)

however, this will be the second-to-the-last — or penultimate for those of you who like to use fancy, foreign loan words (my oed says it came from the french in the 1600s) — post on the irish. i promise. in this current series anyway. (again, if you don’t know what this is all about, you might want to start by reading what’s this all about?)

what do we have so far on the history of native irish mating patterns and family types and societal structures?:

– the medieval irish were clannish, from early in the period (and probably going back into the iron age, too) right through to at least the late-1500s. they actually lived in clans which were called fines. these fines did start to dissipate toward the end of the period, but compared to elsewhere in europe at the time (like england), the medieval irish were very, very clannish.
– the medieval irish regularly married very closely, from early in the period right through, again, to at least the late-1500s. they married cousins (possibly paternal cousins, although i don’t know that for certain), aunts, uncles … they married close. to the great annoyance of the church in rome.
something undoubtedly happened in ireland between the late-1500s and the 1800s, but i don’t know what, because i haven’t gone to the library yet.
– by the 1800s, the irish were no longer living in clans (fines), but extended families were important, and clannishness was evident in the “faction fighting” that happened during the 1700 and 1800s in ireland. faction fights were ongoing feuds between various sets of extended families and their allies.
– lots of irish folk songs from the 1700 and 1800s were related to drinking and fighting.

so, the irish did become less clannish over time from the middle ages until the modern period — actual clans disappeared to be replaced by connections between extended family members, and the people lived more in stem family households rather than extended family households (although this was probably an imposition from the outside as the english authorities altered most of the landholding and inheritance laws in late medieval/early modern ireland — and even after ireland became an independent state, it retained much of the anglo legal system). it’s likely that the mating patterns also shifted, and that the roman catholic church’s cousin marriage bans came to be more strictly enforced, but i still need to check that.

now, mating patterns, family types, and clannishness in twentieth century ireland.

by the early twentieth century, the irish in ireland generally avoided first cousin marriage, although second cousin marriage did happen not infrequently. in some more remote places, however, first cousin marriages were quite common, but these were odd pockets of populations and were not typical of the general population. people lived in stem family housesholds (that’s a nuclear family with grandparents), but the extended family — out to second cousins — was important. the faction fighting of previous centuries was gone, but (and i’m getting ahead of myself here) nepotism and patronage [pg. 18+] were common, even into the twenty-first century (recall that ireland is one of the piiggs).

a couple of anthropologists, conrad m. arensberg and solon t. kimball, headed to ireland in the 1930s (i think it was) and studied family and community life in county clare. here are some lengthy excerpts from their book, Family and Community in Ireland [pgs. 77-78, 83-86 – links added by me]:

“The second [the word ‘friend’] in ordinary rural usage refers not to a comrade, as in English, but to one’s relatives. Even in the towns, one’s father, mother, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, are referred to as ‘immediate friends.’ In the countryside one speaks of one’s kinsmen as one’s ‘friends,’ particularly if they occupy one’s own generation; one’s father’s relatives, even his brothers, become ‘my father’s friends.’ A ‘distant friend’ refers not to distance in space but to that in cousinship….

[T]he Irish family is patrilocal and patronymic, to use the technical terms. Farm, house, and most of the household goods descend from father to son with the patronym; we shall follow their general movement in a later section.

“This patrilineal descent gives a certain accent upon the kinship system; it chooses one line of descent out of the many possible and gives those who make it up a common name. There is a reflection of this fact in the groupings of Irish rural life. To outsiders a person may be known as ‘a boy of the Shannons’ or a ‘man of the Flaherties,’ but in a sense these groupings are merely linguistic conveniences. For in many cases two families of Shannons may live side by side, yet not be considered ‘friends.’ None of the obligations of kinship bind them. For in the phrase of the countryman: ‘They are not the same Shannons or, if they are, they are too far out….’

[T]he kindred are the group within which marriage is prohibited….

In country regions, such as Luogh, nearly all of the families are united by complicated, reduplicated bonds of marriage and descent….

[T]he descent is carried a step further back to a common great-grandparent. Marriage taboos and extended family obligations go backward and upward with the reckoning. Thus second cousins are recognized as being within the kindred and within the prohibited degrees. In fact, in the authors’ experience the obligations of cooring and ‘friendliness’ were equally strong with them….

[B]oth the Church and Irish rural society reckon descent bilaterally; all possible roots, male and female, are counted. In that case, the count gives thirty-two kinship personalities in ego’s own generation who come within this group of first and second cousins. These can all be counted as cousins or ‘friends.’ They are within the range of *col* or marriage taboo. They make up the extended family whose behavior we have examined above….

“Consanguinity is carried one step further by the Church. As a barrier to marriage, or diriment impediment, it extends to the ‘fourth degree.’ This includes the group taken from a common descent yet a generation higher. It brings in those relatives known in English as third cousins….”

note that this is no longer the case in the roman catholic church. today only first cousin marriages are prohibited.

“The bounds of the consanguine group are naturally not rigid in this type of extensional structure. There is a gradation of intensity in the taboo as it extends toward the peripheral relatives. First and second cousins, to use the more convenient English terms, are tabooed, the first more strongly than the second. Third cousins, felt to be ‘very far out’ and sometimes ‘not counted’ by the Irish, are nevertheless formally tabooed by the Church. Yet dispensations can be obtained with relative ease for kindred of this degree. They are granted for all alliances within the system for ’cause’ inward even as far as first cousins and uncles and nieces, but never within the restricted family. When the dispensation of the Church is obtained, there is no feeling of horror at such marriages. They are, however, always felt to be anomalous and are a matter of comment. In the country areas where there is a necessity among the farmers of keeping farms and dowries within the extended family group, or where the introduction of an outsider is difficult because of class and regional antagonisms, marriages between first or second cousins are not uncommon. Nevertheless the general feeling of the community condemns this type of union. Too close intermarriage of this type is a common charge used by townsmen in condemning the country folk….”

pgs. 90-91:

“If the individual attempts to rise above his fellows or to forget them in his way upward, the cry immediately rises that he is ‘forgetting his friends.’ In fact, disloyalty to one’s kinship group is felt to be a deadly crime against the group.

The Irish extended family, combining in different degrees of intensity of solidarity all descendants of a common ancestor through five contemporaneous generations, is not a rigidly defined structure set off from the other groups of society. On the contrary, the extended families present a picture of a series of interlocking pyramids in which each individual is assigned a definite place, but in which no two individuals (unless siblings) occupy quite the same place. It is a group of kindred reckoning common bilateral descent, and linking as equals all individuals occupying the same step within that descent to the number of five such steps…. It is in no sense a clan or gens, as its bounds are not constant, but descend and ascend through the total group of possible kindred….

this sounds very much like the pre-christian germanic kindreds (see here and here) — only ca. 1000+ years later.

Through the workings in and out of the interlocking series of pyramids mentioned above, an isolated area of small population can soon become inextricably intertangled. Hence in the poorest and most isolated regions we find the greatest amount of intermarriage. Evidence is not definite on this score, but the indications point in that direction….

“Through such intermingling, it very often happens that a comparatively large area will be peopled entirely by individuals standing within near degrees of kinship one to another. In such a case the local group attains the added solidarities of common kinship. To an outsider, such a group, closely integrated through kinship bonds, occupying the same general level of social stratification and the same general place in the economic system, and dominating a large or small area (sometimes as large as a parish), presents a united front. It exhibits a very effective solidarity against outsiders. It is this solidarity which gives rise to the assumption among outside observers that the clan still exists in rural Ireland. It is this solidarity, too, which expresses itself in the political cohesion of large sections of the countryside.”
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here is an example of the mating patterns one of “the poorest and most isolated regions” in which was found “the greatest amount of intermarriage.” from some research done by nancy scheper-hughes (meh) in the 1970s on the dingle peninsula in ireland — some excerpts from Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland [pgs. 81, 179-181]:

“An intense rivalry separates Ballybran from its larger, sister parish of ‘Castlederry’ (i.e Castlegregory)…. Where Castlederry is neatly divided into class, religious, and ethnic boundaries, sporting a few token Protestant residents, the people of Ballybran like to make the ‘proud boast’ that there was never a ‘Black Protestant’ to dig his heels permanently into their native turf. Finally, where men from Castlederry frequently contract matches with women outside their parish, the men of Ballybran feel that a match with a second cousin or no match at all is preferable to marriage with a stranger….

“Because of the general mistrust of outsiders and the reluctance of village women to marry into the kitchen of a completely unknown mother-in-law, marriages have tended (until recently) to be parish endogamous. Within some isolated hamlet of Ballybran marriage options for generations have been limited to exchanges of women between the six or ten households that the townland comprises. ‘Marry on the dunghill and choose a sponsor from the mountain’ is a local proverb meaning that it is wisest to ‘marry in.’

“A preferred form of marriage in past generations was the ‘double match’ whereby a brother and sister married a brother and sister from a neighboring household. This arrangement was considered eminently fair, since neither household was deprived, even temporarily, of the labor of a woman and in such cases the dowry could be dispensed with. Unpopular marriages, which raise eyebrows and give scandal fall into several categories: a very old man taking a young bride; a widower with small children marrying any woman; a thrice-married widow or widower (‘a first marriage is honorable, a second marriage is excusable, a third marriage is disgraceful’); a ‘mixed marriage’ between a Protestant and a Catholic. All of these marriages are believed to produce bad *dutcas* (blood) in children born of the union.

Because of generations of endogamy most parishioners are related to one another through blood or marriage or both. There is a certain amount of guilt associated with the inbreeding of the community, and some villagers will go so far as to deny a relationship to distant kin where parish records indicate that such is the case. In one hillside hamlet where six of nine households share the same surname, the O’Carrolls disclaimed one another, saying, ‘We’re all O’Carrolls all right, but not the same O’Carrolls.’

“The desire to keep relationships fuzzy is, in part, the result of an effort to conceal the number of cousin marriages in the parish. Despite the Roman Catholic Church’s incest prohibitions, second-degree-cousin marriages are not uncommon and are a favorite topic of malicious gossip. Although the parish priest or curate is responsible for searching the genealogies of prospective couples, and the publication of the banns of marriage is intended to uncover any impediments to a lawful Church marriage, the rural priest and his flock tend to be sympathetic to such dilemmas, and the details of kinship are often left hazy or ignored. In the rarer cases of first-cousin marriage, where the fear of God’s wrath and His punishment in the form of insanity to the offspring is strong, couples customarily delay the marriage until they are well past the childbearing age.

As a consequence of parish endogamy, over 96 percent of all adult males are natives of the community, and 70 percent of the married women were born locally.

compare this to, for example, the village of ely in cambridgeshire, england, in the 1300s where a full 50% of the marriages were to people outside the village. or that there are no dispensations for first cousin marriages in the available records from 1500s england.

“Of the nonnative women the majority have been brought in from neighboring parishes in southwest Kerry and from the towns of Dingle and Tralee. The remaining few women are natives of distant counties to the north, or they are from the midlands and married into the parish following a period of emigration to England. In these cases the marriage was the result of a determined and aggressive move on the part of those bachelor farmers who make a practice of spending their winters as laborers in English cities where they seek out disillusioned and homesick Irish nurses, waitresses, and clerks, anxious to return to Ireland at any cost. Such courtships and marriages are hastily contracted — often during one three-month winter season — in order to allow the couple to return to Ireland in early spring for the start of the new agricultural cycle. Frequently, these marriages turn out unhappily for the bride, who is not well received in the parish and who finds village life monotonous and boring. Such failure reinforce village beliefs about the benefits of marrying one’s own kind.”
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and to close with an excerpt from arensberg and kimball — how did the early twentieth century irish extended families interact within themselves and towards outsiders? [pgs. 69-73]:

The commonest form of cooperation is that which involves lending a boy to a ‘friend’ whenever he is needed….

remember that “friend” means family member (see above).

“About half the families had horse-drawn mowing machines. Those who had them mowed their own meadows as quickly as possible, working from earliest morning as long as light held. They worked with the aid of their sons and with that of boys from the families who had no machines of their own. At each subsequent stage of the harvesting, a boy or young man not a member of the family whose meadow was being worked could be seen giving his labor in aid; he took his place at meals during the day.

“The mowing done, the farmer then took his machine to the farmer whose son had helped him and mowed the meadows belonging to his friend. In one instance a youngish farmer mowed the meadows of three others; in another, of two….

“Here then was an example of an important agricultural operation undertaken by the local community in which provision was made (except in five or six cases) for effective cooperation over and above the usual family economy….

Driven to social rather than economic explanation, the authors were able to ascertain that in each case of this cooperation there was an extended family relationship involved. Thus Carey, who had mowed the meadows of Dennis and Seamus Molony and Brian McMahon, was second cousin to them. Peter Barrett was first cousin and uncle respectively of the two farmers whose meadows he had mowed. The young men or boys who had worked Carey’s and Barrett’s meadows with the latter’s wives and children were also relatives; they were sons of the relative for whom Carey and Barrett had mowed.

“So it went over the townland. In no instance, of course, had a man mowed for all his relatives; it was not necessary to do so. In one instance a man had mowed for a neighbor who, while not a relative, was a great boon companion…. And the two strangers who had moved into the townland, in one case fifty years before, in the other thirty, had no relatives ‘on this side.’ One of these was man who had never got along with his neighbors, accused the whole townland of plotting against him, and was cordially disliked in return. The other had the help of a boy sent by a cousin in a near-by townland.

“The generic term ‘cooring’ is given to all non-monetary cooperation of this sort in many parts of Clare. The word is a direct borrowing from the Irish *comhair*, which is similarly used, originally meaning cotillage, now having the added meanings of alliance or partnership. But more interesting was the fact that the small farmers explained their cooring in terms of the ‘friendliness’ of the place. So, we shall see, the term ‘friendly’ is applied to the extended (and also immediate) relatives or ‘friends.’

“When asked especially why they were cooperating, the farmers’ answer was that they ‘had right to help.’ In general terms they would phrase it that ‘you have right to help friend,’ or again that ‘country people do be very friendly; they always help one another.’

“Now the phrase ‘have right’ is an expression in the brogue or English dialect spoken in Ireland (and in Clare) which, like ‘friendly,’ is a translation of a Gaelic idiom. It expresses an obligation, duty, or the traditional fitness of an act. The Gaelic word for which it is a substitute is *cóir*, and a bilingual countryman translates the Gaelic phrase is *cóir dom* (the obligation is on me) into ‘I have right to.’ The countrymen of Clare, at least, do not ordinarily use or understand the phrase ‘I am right’ to mean ‘what I have said is true.’ The countryman is explaining his economic acts in their traditional family setting as part of the reciprocities of act, sentiment, and obligation which make up family relationships….

“This aid is felt to be in the same category. Thus one farmer speaking of another, his second cousin, could say:

“‘He is the best friend we ever had; we can make bold on him. When the children were little and our cow died on us, Johnny sent down a cow and calf worth twelve pounds to us and didn’t want anything for it.'”

there’s that potential clannish dysgenics again. and notice how non-extended-family members are largely excluded from receiving aid.

by the 1960s, the first cousin marriage rates in ireland were down to below 1% of all marriages. still, extended families remained important to the irish in ireland even into the 1980s [pgs. 108-111]:

“Kinship obligations, on the other hand, do not fall only upon those living in the same house. The family unit has a paramount responsibility as regards the care of elders; there are other forms of assistance, however, that ciculate within the kinship network too but well beyond the boundaries of both nuclear and stem families. This is the case of baby-sitting services, which leads us back once again to the female domain. Relative, both kin and affines, take care of each other’s children quite frequently, and the closer they are the better….

“As we will see in the next chapter, the spheres of kinship and neighbourhood overlap on many occasions, but they are far from coincident. There is something distinctively unique in a blood relationship that no other form of arrangement can sustitute for. Take, for instance, the case of fosterage and adoption. No matter how popular these practices are in this region, the sort of fictive kinship that they create is never confused with the real blood relationship. This was so emphatically asserted to me that I cannot fail to note it here.

previously: early and late medieval irish mating practices and clannish medieval ireland and inbreeding in europe’s periphery and early modern and modern clannish ireland and meanwhile, in ireland… and drinkin’ and fightin’ songs and inbreeding in ireland in modern times

(note: comments do not require an email. dingle peninsula.)

drinkin’ and fightin’ songs

from “Representations of Drinking in English Songs” in Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia [pg. 224]:

In English songs of the nineteenth century, fighting assumes less prominence than in contemporary Irish drinking songs (Ingle 2000). Only 16 English songs of this period contain fight-related themes, and 7 songs from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have been identified. In contrast, over 70 of 200 Irish drink-related songs of the same era concerned fighting. Of those, half were concerned with a peculiar Irish institution, ‘faction fighting,’ which is foreign to British tradition (Conley 2000). Only 2 English songs have been found with comparable themes. ‘Pleasures of the fair’ (in which a mob at a rural carnival ‘drinks and fights uproariously’) depicts a brawl that apparently arises from high spirits. And ‘Pace egging song’ also depicts a spontaneous group fight among a reveling throng at an Easter festival.

“Other English group fight-theme songs include ‘Dramatic morality,’ in which drinking at a theater leads to disorder wherein men cuff and spar with each other, with no mention of anger as a motive. In a playful scene at ‘The Manchester races,’ a throng eats and drinks with abandon, while others fight. Three songs depict group fights, growing out of arguments at sporting events. ‘Wednesbury cocking’ describes a bloody affair, to be long remembered (and thus atypical), while in ‘Wedgfield wake’ (a seasonal fair) another cockfight debate triggers a fight. Finally, in ‘Humor of Eccles wake,’ an unspecified sporting dispute also leads to a brawl. In reviewing ‘recreational fighting,’ it appears these English songs are neither as organized nor as damaging as Irish faction fights….

The contrasts between song themes from Scotland, Ireland, and England are also intriguing and suggest topics for social historians to pursue. The balance between perceived benefits and dangers of drinking is significantly different between Irish and British songs, for one thing — and the Irish reference for fighting as a recreation in their street ballads (Ingle 2000) could not be discovered in English street ballads or in rural folk songs. Are the British really so different in their attitudes toward drink-enhanced fighting, or are they simply disinclined to sing about them?


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previously: early modern and modern clannish ireland and english victorian working class pugilists

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