Austrians - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kinship. The most important kinship group is the bilateral Familie. The group tends to be coterminous with the Household in both urban and rural zones. Relations between lineal relatives, especially parents and their married children or Siblings, is recognized with the cover term Grossfamilie. These extended family ties are activated through frequent visiting. Families are embedded within a wider bilateral kindred, the Verwandschaft. This grouping is activated for life-cycle events.

Marriage. Marriages are monogamous. The age of Marriage in urban centers coincides with the establishment of a career track (early twenties), but many delay marriage until their thirties. In alpine zones, the European late-marriage pattern can be found. The decision to marry signifies an intention to have children, since cohabitation without Marriage, even within one's parents' house, is tolerated. The Roman Catholic practice of permanent marriage between sexually chaste partners remains prevalent among the rural population. According to state law, divorce can be initiated by either husband or wife, and remarriage is permitted. Marriages tie two extended families together. As soon as possible after the marriage, the couple establishes a neolocal residence within close proximity to one of the families, most frequently the wife's family. After the birth of children, the mother Returns to wage earning after a maximum two years of paid leave. Close kin are employed for preschool child care.

Inheritance. Where land tenure is held within the family under the leadership of a single individual (alpine practice), the ideology of inheritance specifies that the entire estate should go to the firstborn male offspring. In the absence of that heir, the next oldest child inherits. In all other situations, landed or not, inheritance ideology tends to be bilateral and partible.

Socialization. Weaning from the breast occurs within 3 to 6 months. There is strong pressure toward early toilet training, which is often completed by the end of the child's second year. Grandparents play an important role in early childhood development. Disciplinary styles differ between the parents, with the father establishing a harsher, more physical approach, and the mother a more patient and verbal one. Preschool activities begin in the child's third year and regular kindergarten/elementary school in the fifth year. All of these institutions are state-supported. Primary school occupies the years 6 through 10 and emphasizes basic social, reading, writing, and arithmetic skills. Secondary school proceeds from ages 10 through 14. At age 10, the child is tested and tracked into either a continuing elementary school, a basic high school (Hauptschule), or a college-preparatory high school (Gymnasium). Education continues through the mandatory fifteenth year in either vocational schools, teacher-training institutes, apprenticeships, or continuing college-preparatory schools. The wage market relies on the school system for credential certification. Thus, educational decisions are among the most important an Austrian will make.

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