Ionians - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kinship, Marriage, and Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the most common social unit among Ionians today, although vertically extended families composed of an elderly couple and one child with his/her family are also found. Horizontal extended or joint families of married brothers with spouses and children are the ideal following the death of both parents, but in reality they are rare. In the twentieth century, residence has changed from a pattern predominated by patrilocality to mixed patrilocal and matrilocal households or neighborhoods, with some neolocality as well. The modern inclusion of a home, apartment, or addition to a home in daughters' dowries has led to the increase in matrilocality, as families build on their own or adjacent properties to provide this element of their daughters' inheritances. Bilateral kindreds are seen at personal and village celebrations. One of the most obvious facets of the nuclear family today is the absence of one or more principal members through migration; some villages have a high percentage of elderly couples who have no children in the village. The kin terminology is Eskimo, like that in the United States; terms in some areas reflect Italian influence. In the past, marriages were arranged by parents; the practice is still common today. An intermediary's advice is often sought; such an individual is expected to have full knowledge of available unmarried individuals, including familial background, familial and personal reputation, and any potential flaws in character. Success at migration is an Important characteristic contributing to the relative desirability of a potential spouse. It is increasingly common for individuals to be involved in love matches and to make their own marriage arrangements. Such romances often begin in Athens or elsewhere outside the islands. As a result, an earlier pattern of Regional endogamy is changing. Divorce is still rare but has become more common with the introduction of legal civil marriages and divorces in 1980. Divorce is frowned upon, however, and divorced women are unlikely to remarry. Women who have been partners in broken engagements experience similar difficulty in finding a husband. These situations increase the likelihood of a woman's migrating to a city where her past experiences are unknown.


Inheritance. A child's equal portion of the inheritance may take the form of funds for migration or higher education as an alternative to the traditional land and household property. Women receive at least a portion of their inheritance at marriage in the form of a dowry. Household furnishings and land were traditional dowry elements; modern changes include a home or attached rooms and cash. Land is less likely to be included, unless it is located in an area that can be developed for tourism. The division of the inheritance generally takes place at the death of parents.


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