Auvergnats - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kinship. Auvergnats, like other French people, have a bilateral kinship system, with patriarchal overtones. The Ego-centered kindred is the basic descent group. A notion of the patrimony (te patrimoine ) as a symbol of the family as an Economic, cultural, and social unit is important.

Marriage. Marriage in the Auvergne involves two Ceremonies: a civil one at the mayor's office, and a religious one at the church. A preference for patrilocal residence predominated in the past, although this has declined with both urbanization and the depopulation of farm villages (so that any child is now encouraged to bring a spouse to settle on the farm). As in the rest of France, divorce rates have risen during the postwar period.

Domestic Unit. La maison (sometimes known historically as 1e mas ) is the most common term for the domestic unit, and connotes reference to the family as household. The less inclusive ménage refers to the nuclear family unit. Nuclear family households predominate throughout the region, although extended (stem-type) family households of two or three generations exist in the countryside. In eastern sections of the Auvergne, family communities were common (particularly among peasants) up until the eighteenth century. Neighboring Auvergnat households traditionally gathered for nightly veillées, which included storytelling and handiwork, until quite recently.

Inheritance. Although equal inheritance is legally mandated by the French civil code, Auvergnat farmers have attempted to keep their holdings intact through various informal methods of impartible inheritance. Commonly, the "heir" will monetarily "pay off" the inheritances of siblings through going into debt. Primogeniture is preferred, although this is difficult to achieve, and younger sons and daughters often take over farms.

Socialization. Auvergnat children commonly enter French public or Catholic schools at the age of 3, and the minimal school-leaving age is 16. Family-based socialization instills a strong sense of regional identity. Peer groups, the media, the educational system, and the family compete as agents in the socialization of the youth.


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