Bonerate - Marriage and Family

Marriage. When people marry, social prestige is at high risk. Orang Bonerate stress that fathers and mothers gain prestige through their daughters. Men try to move up the social ladder by marrying socially important women. According to what people say, a woman does not lose in rank by marrying down, but her husband will always be seen as inferior in comparison with his in-laws. Most weddings are arranged by the parents of the bride and groom. Wealthy parents of Bonerate girls find it natural to donate money to the family of the groom. This is done to enable them to pay a substantial bride-price. Residence is generally uxorilocal. Polygyny is possible, but almost absent from Bonerate. Marriages tend to be stable, and divorce is rare.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family, which may include one or more married daughters and grandparents, is the most significant family and residential unit. Egalitarianism between the sexes, particularly between husband and wife, is a striking feature of Bonerate social organization, which should be regarded as matrifocal.

Inheritance. Bonerate sons and daughters inherit equal shares of their parents' estate and other belongings. There is only one exception to this rule of even distribution of inheritance. The parental house, which is actually the mother's house, and all household equipment, belong to the youngest daughter. If there are no daughters, the house belongs to the youngest son.

Socialization. The absence of the father is experienced by most infants and children for prolonged periods when fathers are at sea. Otherwise both parents take part in the socialization of their children. Also, child care by young caretakers is an institutionalized custom. The caretakers may be siblings, but not necessarily so. In socialization emphasis is placed on emotional control, that is, the concealment of expressions of love, joy, and anger from public exposure. Orang Bonerate seldom praise their children, nor do they use physical punishment in child rearing. Children seem to direct aggression toward themselves and culturally acceptable targets such as animals and strangers. Puberty rites are staged for both girls and boys.

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