Agta - Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kin Groups and Descent. Kinship is very important to the Agta, and their social organization is based almost exclusively on it. Descent is bilateral. They do not have lineages, clans, or cognatic descent groups. Rather, it is the personal kindred that is important to them.

Kinship Terminology. Kinship terms reflect an Eskimo classification, with lineal relatives distinguished from collaterals in the first ascending and descending generations from Ego, as well as in Ego's own generation. There is no distinction between cross and parallel cousins. Cousin terminology may be Eskimo or Hawaiian, depending on the context and the level of contrast required. The Agta language has a total of fifteen kinship terms of reference, six of which also serve as terms of address, plus seven more kinship terms used for address only.

Marriage. Agta marriages are monogamous. They practice strict kin exogamy, but manifest a preference for group endogamy. Marriages between distantly related consanguines are extremely rare, as are unions between affines. In 1984, 17 percent of the Casiguran Agta adults in northern Aurora were married to partners from other Agta ethnolinguistic groups, and 11 percent (two men and twenty-five women) were married to non-Agta farmers. Residence is bilocal—the couple may live with either the husband's or the wife's parents. In 1978, 48 percent of the households were virilocal, 35 percent were uxorilocal, 8 percent were neolocal, and 8 percent were ambiguous. Divorce is infrequent, with only 18 percent of the adults ever having been divorced. Most cases of divorce occur between couples who are newly married or who are still in a trial period of incipient marriage. It is quite uncommon for a couple with dependent children to divorce.

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