Hutterites - Kinship, Marriage and Family

Kin Groups and Descent. The recognized kin groups are the nuclear family, the patrinomial family (kin with the same surname), and clans (intermarrying family lines). Leuts are considered not kin groups but, rather, historical branches of the same large group. Brothers and their father often cooperate in many activities. Descent is bilateral with a patrilineal emphasis.

Marriage. Marriage is colony exogamous and Leut endogamous. Within these bounds, freedom of choice of spouses is the norm, although sibling exchange marriages are preferred. Postmarital residence is patrilocal, and a woman's ties to her family are usually overridden by patriarchal authority patterns. Divorce is not allowed.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the primary residential unit, occupying an apartment in one of the longhouses. It is not, however, the primary economic unit nor the primary arena for socialization. Patriarchal authority is the norm and the in-marrying wives are greatly influenced both by their husbands and their mothers-in-law. Large families are strongly encouraged.

Inheritance. As there is no ownership of personal property, there is no inheritance.

Socialization. Children are seen as gifts of God who belong to the colony and ultimately to the church. Thus, much of child rearing and socialization occurs in the colony context. Hutterite values and ways are taught and reinforced informally through participation in colony activities and Formally through school attendance. Kindergarten children (ages three to five) attend Klein-Schul and schoolchildren (ages six to fifteen) attend German school ( Gross-Schul ), English school, and Sunday school. Except for English school, the emphasis in school is on inculcating Hutterite values and ways of life. English school is taught by a non-Hutterite, though various restrictions are placed on the curriculum and teaching methods so as not to contradict Hutterite teachings.

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