Dusun - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriages are typically monogamous, although polygynous marriage is permitted between older, wealthy males and younger females believed capable of producing healthy infants. Dusun commonly prohibit marriage with any first or second cousin and view marriage with third cousins as distasteful. There is some freedom in choosing marriage partners, within limits set by Dusun culture. Following an arrangement to marry between a man and a woman, often made in secret, formal discussions concerning marriage are initiated by the man's father, paternal grandfather, or a father's brother with the woman's father, paternal grandfather, or a father's brother. Marriage involves direct and substantial payment by a groom to the father of the bride. Marriages tend to be locally exogamous. Following marriage, couples routinely establish independent family households close to both their families, although a newly married couple may reside initially with the groom's father and occasionally with the bride's father while working to accumulate enough wealth to establish an independent household. Termination of marriage, other than through death of a spouse, requires initial arbitration by a community leader, then a formal hearing if the effort at reconciliation fails. A ritual fine may be required of an individual found to be at fault in the dissolution of a marriage.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the minimal family unit occupying a household. Some relatives may be added to the nuclear family as the need arises to support them, particularly if they are aged, ill, or handicapped. These relatives are expected to assist in some way in the household unit.

Inheritance. The Dusun traditionally follow the general principle that all children should receive a fair share of the estates of their parents. A child who cares for an aged parent before death may receive some special additional consideration in property inheritance. A husband has little control over the property brought to a marriage by his wife. The Dusun have developed and use a traditional system for deciding complex questions concerning the distribution of property.

Socialization. Parents tend to share the care of infants and young children. Older siblings often care for infants and young children when parents are away from the household at work. The process of cultural transmission traditionally provides for a long period of freedom from most tasks for maturing children, with few restrictions on their behavior. Then, at about 11 or 12 years of age, children are expected to begin to participate in daily work activities and to be responsible members of their families and community. Prior to this age children are considered by parents to be naturally inclined to noisiness and illness, somewhat temperamental, easily offended, quick to forget, and prone to wandering away from home. Dusun parents try to shape this nature through use of a wide variety of specific physical and verbal rewards and punishments. Because infants and young children are not viewed as competent humans until they reach about 11 or 12 years of age, they are not judged harshly or punished by parents when they misbehave.

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