Madeirans - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage among the tiny population aggregates of remote mountain ravines can be assumed as historically endogamous to the point of inbreeding. Today there are few arranged marriages, and local exogamy and on-island Intermarriage among villagers are the norm. The peasant family household has been the core productive unit of Madeira's agricultural economy and now provides labor for its service economy. Access to Funchal and the employment alternatives of tourism have weakened the hold of the church in Marital affairs, but even city parishioners remain devout. Divorce is still rare, though philandering and abandonment (by Emigration) are not.

Domestic Unit. Outside metropolitan Funchal, the Domestic unit remains the basic subsistence unit, and (nuclear) family tasks are allocated by traditional sex roles. Farming and a variety of cottage industries are chief sources of support. At home or workshop, girls acquire needlework skills (embroidery, bordados, and tapestry, tapeçaria), while boys apprentice in viniculture, artisan trades, and construction until marriage.

Inheritance. Inheritance occurs without regard to gender, with slight preference going to the caretaker of elders. Traditional land tenure renders moot many meaningful rights of inheritance.

Socialization. Rural children are raised within a loosely extended family, and their labor is accessory to farm work from an early age. Preautonomy (1976), schooling was minimal: it is now compulsory through primary level (age 11). Further options, mostly vocational in nature, require moving to Funchal or off the islands. The parish church reinforces conformity to values such as the central role of family and respect for authority.

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