Poles - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kinship. The Poles use Eskimo-type kin terms. The ideal is the extended family. Kindreds may assemble for funerals and weddings. Kinship and extended kin ties are important when one attempts to manipulate the formal kin system in order to obtain scarce goods and resources.

Marriage. The expectation is that marriage will be monogamous, but increasing numbers of people are practicing serial monogamy. In rural areas, dowries are given. Marriages tend to be class-endogamous and in rural areas village-exogamous. Ideally, residence should be neolocal or virilocal, especially with farming groups and the upper classes. Because of the urban housing shortage many individuals are forced even after marriage to continue living separately with their own parents. Immediately after World War II, divorce was easy to obtain. More recently it has become more difficult, but Divorce still is obtainable. Socially, a certain stigma is attached to a divorced woman.

Domestic Unit. Ideally, the household consists of the Nuclear family or a stem extended family, with the aged parents of one of the spouses and adult unmarried children. In fact, a large number of households are single-parent families. A Significant portion of households consist of married or divorced daughters with their children, a type of household called a susu.

Inheritance. A father used to be able to divide the Inheritance in any way he chose. Currently, he faces certain legal restraints (frequently evaded in practice) on the minimum size of landholdings and inheritance payments by fanning people to city residents. The inheritance system does not work well. It generates strong antagonisms and frequent lawsuits among heirs.

Socialization. Great emphasis is placed on good manners and etiquette—children who misbehave are considered "impolite." Boys, in particular, are raised to be brave, independent, self-reliant, and tough. Patriotism is also inculcated. Among farming people and workers, physical punishment is common; upper-class people tend to use psychological punishment. The father should be respected and obeyed. Ideally, the mother is kind and often mediates between the father, who is the stern disciplinarian, and the children. Since frequently both parents work outside the home, the grandparents play an important role in raising the children, especially in the cities.


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