Samoa - Marriage and the Family



Marriage. Members of the father's and mother's descent groups are forbidden as marriage partners, and community endogamy is also discouraged. Bride and groom should be of similar rank. Today, a church wedding is an important and costly affair, but many marriages are still customary ones, man and wife living together with their parents' consent after the appropriate exchange of goods. Premarital virginity is highly valued and a girl's moral code prohibits sexual relations with a man unless she is recognized as his wife. Customary marriages among younger people frequently end in Divorce, however, and the partners may have undergone several such marriages before eventually contracting a church Wedding. Residence tends to be virilocal, but during the early stages of married life a couple frequently resides with the wife's family. In pre-Christian times, polygyny was practiced, although probably only by matai of high rank.

Domestic Unit. The localized section of a descent group, forming an extended family and living in a group of houses clustered around a common hearth, is the customary Domestic unit. In modern times, the nuclear family has become more frequent.

Inheritance. Members of the descent group retain rights to use and control of customary land occupied and cultivated by their 'äiga, regardless of where they live. The same applies to matai titles that are not subject to any automatic Inheritance rule. A family council will decide to confer a vacant title upon a member—usually male—whom they consider to be the best choice. Especially with regard to high titles, however, agnatic succession is preferred.

Socialization. Starting at about 1½ years of age, children become subject to an education Europeans would label as "authoritarian." They are expected to obey their parents and elders at once, without hesitation and without asking questions. Overt and direct expressions of hostility and aggression are discouraged, but musu , the state of sullen unwillingness to comply with orders, is a culturally tolerated outlet. Much of the actual education work takes place in the peer groups where older brothers and especially sisters are made responsible for the behavior of their younger siblings. Formal education in schools is considered essential for the well-being of the entire family today and parents usually encourage some of their children to remain in high school.

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