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Variations in kinship networks across geographic and social space

By Michael J. Murphy

Abstract

This article analyzes variations in interaction with non-coresident adult kin based on comparable cross-national surveys conducted in 2001 in 27 countries. The two main dimensions of kin contact are considered: (1) overall levels and (2) the relative emphasis given to contacts with primary kin (parents, adult children, siblings) and secondary kin (aunts, cousins, in-laws). Age-adjusted variations in kin contact between countries are much greater than those within countries. These results do not confirm the commonly hypothesized existence of well-defined family system boundaries in Europe arising from historical factors. The similarity of patterns of countries outside Europe with European countries with which they have historical ties suggests cultural factors are important in explaining interaction with kin, whereas welfare regimes appear to have little explanatory value. Within Europe, kin contact levels are more strongly related to a north/south divide than to indicators of economic development or religiosity. The findings suggest that neither of the extreme assumptions—homogenizing pressures toward a nuclear family model or persistent well-defined groupings arising from historical contexts—can be substantiated. Rather, there is a continuum in family behaviors over a substantial range, related to a number of explanatory factors

Topics: GN Anthropology
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of The Population Council
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2008.00204.x
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:28755
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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