Cross-cultural survey

This survey investigates how family and child rearing patterns are related to political, social and economic behavior. It differs from previous cross-cultural studies in being concerned with the overall level of control and punishment, rather than the aim of such control or punishment (for example, controlling sexual behavior or toilet training), and in its focus on the age at which such control and punishment applies. Societies have been chosen to represent the widest possible range, in terms both of geography and political and economic complexity.

Because the political and economic makeup of many societies today has been heavily influenced by Western patterns of behavior, the focus where possible is on societies that have been less influenced, and political and economic behavior is as much as possible that relating to the traditional society. The Western societies included are chosen as having relatively traditional values, less affected by the drastic social changes of the past fifty years.

The correlations attached use Kendal’s tau, since the variables are ordinal rather than cardinal.

An updated version of this survey is currently being prepared.




General rules for coding

Unless specifically stated and where there is a difference, all variables apply to the male sex and the present time.

Where a variable differs among regions or status levels in the area of study, it is coded for the majority of people.

Figures must always be used when available, however limited the sample and however contradictory other passages may seem.   For example, if one man in a village of thirty men has two wives, the polygyny rate is 6% unless other figures exist.

Where concrete data exist that fits the criteria, these must be used regardless of general impressions.    Where no conclusive evidence is found, a variable may be coded if it seems   ‘reasonably certain’.    A 20% difference in judgment is allowed for.

Common sense may provide an answer not given in the book, for example that the United States is a monogamous society.

Lack of evidence may be used to score a variable where there is a reasonable discussion of the relevant subject.

If two codes fit a variable, the higher should be taken.

The object of the coding is to rank the societies in order.   If one does not fit into an extreme category because it is still more extreme, then it may be given the extreme code regardless.

Certain words have precise meanings. ‘Definitely’ and ‘obvious’ mean that concrete evidence must be found to score the society at this level.

Where precise figures exist,   ‘normally’ means 2/3,   ‘mostly’ 1/2. Otherwise they are used impressionistically.

‘Or’ joining two circumstances means that only one must be found to score the society at this level.     ‘And’ requires both.  The same applies to lists of more than two. The biological family of man, wife and children is calculated at five unless other data exist.

There are a number of variables coded for the ‘traditional’ society rather than at the time they were studied. A traditional society is defined as one brought under effective colonial rule later than 1820. These are:

  • size of political unit
  • market economy
  • government arbitrary
  • monogamy
  • feuds
  • modesty in dress

Those on the left tend to be greatly affected by the mere fact of European control. Those on the right are affected to varying degrees, but the changes that do occur can be in most cases more sensibly put down to direct European influence than to changes in the prevailing temperament.

An attempt was made to avoid societies where European influence has been very great, and in most cases the “traditional society is only a generation back at most.

Examples are given of societies in each category. These will not be shown to the coders.



Size of political unit:

The state, nation or tribe defined as the largest territorial group with a regular and moderately effective mechanism for dealing with disputes or organizing action.    Two friendly groups who arbitrate differences would not be classed as a political unit unless some central leader or group or general assembly existed. For the traditional society:

  1. 1-50: face-to-face group.

Eskimos: Almost no political control system.   An extreme deviant, for example a multiple murderer, might be dealt with by one or two men on their own initiative.

  1. 51-300: village

Lesu: Each village has its own chief, and village size seems to be less than 300

  1. 301-1000: village group

Fiji: There are 1200 people on the island. Before the Tongan invasion the largest political unit was the confederation of villages, of which there were three. This implies an average political unit of 400 people.

  1. 1001-two million: tribe or kingdom

Barabaig:   The most effective unit seems to have been the clan, with an average of about 300 in each, but a tribal chief and councilors seem to have been fairly effective in stopping inter-tribal feuding.

  1. two million plus

European and other long-civilized nations in place before 1820.

Java: was subjugated by the Dutch by 1808, so the modern Indonesian state is used.

Government arbitrary

For traditional society.    Government is the largest unit, as defined in the last variable. Authority of fathers or uncles is excluded

  1. Orders not accepted, or usually phrased as advice

Eskimos: No-one is seen as having the right to tell any other adult what to do.    A course of action may be suggested, but there is no obligation on the other to follow it.

  1. Some individuals have the right to give orders, but ordinary men can influence the everyday running of affairs at the highest political level by the effect of their opinion on the leaders, or by being able to refuse to carry out a command. This means in effect that men will almost always have personal contact with leaders.

Fiji: Chiefs have definite authority, but tend to express the feeling of a village meeting rather than make arbitrary decisions. They lack the means to enforce respect and obedience. Their authority was greater in the past, but the author does not think they ever commanded complete obedience.


  1. People generally accept government authority but have some indirect influence, such as by choosing representatives. This includes societies that have been democratic for at least three quarters of the time since 1945.

Ilocos:    The Philippines have been under colonial rule for 400 years and are therefore coded by post-war government:    a democracy until recently.

Kgatla:   All important matters were dealt with by a tribal assembly of men which could dictate to the chief.    Since the Kgatla tribe consisted of many scattered villages, ordinary men obviously could not influence the chief in everyday affairs.


  1. Ordinary men have less influence than above on government at the highest level.

Gusii:    The traditional rulers were local men of wealth, with very arbitrary power that less powerful men did not dare challenge.

Zulu:    The king is controlled by custom but not directly by .the people.


Fear of leaders:

This includes both local leaders and government officials, but not police. Attitudes are scored for the present, but only up to the level of the traditional political system

  1. The authority of leaders or officials is not obviously supported by fear, as defined below, or authority is nonexistent

Japan:    Local leaders are expected to lead in a subtle way. Though suspicious of government and non-cooperative with the police, obedience to an unpopular measure is described in terms of loyalty rather than fear.

Pondo:    The chief is generally popular, and is cheerfully given the required gifts.    He is on affable terms with the people.
Kanuri:    High status people are given much spontaneous respect and obedience.    The one mention of punishment in support of a status position concerned a very obvious defiance where obedience would clearly have been normal.    It was punished by an adverse decision in a court case some months later.

Gadsup: The village strong man is distinguished only by his initiative and oratory in debate, not by a formal position. He is kind, just and compassionate, a manipulator of social relations.


  1. Widespread attitude of fear or strong hostility to leaders or officials, or punishment is mentioned as a common reason for obeying authority.

Akwe-Shavante:    The day to day authority of the leader is based on ‘the ability of the dominant faction to use its prestige and its skilled speakers to have its enemies excommunicated’.   But the basic and underlying source of his power is the capacity to mobilize his faction to drive out or kill his opponents.    Given the constant struggle between factions, it is clearly only these two fear sanctions that support his authority.    He is not, on the other hand, domineering or hectoring in manner, and others frequently override his minor decisions.
Gusii:    ‘Except for some elders, the chief tolerates no contradiction or criticism at the weekly assembly meetings of the location’. Fear is mentioned a number of times as the reason for the total lack of opposition to powerful men.    Traditionally, such a leader gained authority only when he was prepared to use severe punishments to support his judicial authority. The chief was also genuinely respected.

Status of local leaders

Within the local area.    Officials who get most of their power from the government are excluded.   For example, if they are appointed by government without regard to local hierarchy. High status men are defined as those whose standing, however slight, is based on age (but not fathers or uncles), wealth, formal rank, on being head of a kin or local group which is not also an economic unit, or on
a fairly permanent named status position gained through success in areas other than decision-making.    Prestige based simply on personal qualities is excluded

  1. Political leaders are not especially high status, or lack of strong leaders in the local area: leaders may sum up consensus, but cannot give orders or punish those who disobey

United States:    Wealth and social standing are only slightly related
to influence in local government.

United States:    Wealth and social standing are only slightly related to influence in local government.

Portugal:    The only ‘local’ government that seems to be of any importance is by the big landowners, who normally live in the city.
Semai:    Decisions are made according to public opinion, over which the headman and elders have influence but no authority.

Mixtecans:  Decisions within the barrio – the local area – are by consensus. High status, gained by arranging ceremonies, is temporary.   Wealth does not seem to affect local leadership.    No barrio members serve on the town government, so this is not classed as a ‘local’ government.


  1. neither above nor below

Manus:    Wealthy and successful men have far more influence than others and can order about their clients, but they do not seem to form a separate decision-making group.

Kgatla:    The ward, with 150 to 250 people, coincides with the local area. ‘The ward-head, assisted by his paternal relatives and the heads of other prominent families, administers justice to and presides over political meetings of his people.    He can demand free labor from them’. The position is hereditary.    Leaders are definitely high status, but the people have a part in meetings.

Gusii:    ‘Regardless of his authority outside his local community, the most wealthy and forceful homestead head was dominant within it. …He used their dependence on him to dominate them. The leader at every level used his power ‘to induce people to submit their disputes to him and the lineage elders’. Referring to one particular chief, ‘He does not share his political power with anyone, however, whether kin or not’. Wealthy men are reputed to prefer the companionship of poor kinsmen to their equals.    Leaders are again high status, but authority seems to rest with an individual rather than a group.

  1. Important political decisions are definitely made by a meeting of high status men, at least one of whom would normally live in – the local area. Ordinary men are not present at these meetings.

Kaoka: Each settlement has a headman, one of whose principle jobs is to call the seniors to a meeting when any matter of importance has to be decided.

Rajputs: The focus of social control with the Rajput caste group is a number of prominent men. The major sources of their strength are ownership of enough land to give them moderate to great wealth, and the support of a number of friends and closely related kinsmen, especially sons. They sit on decision-making and adjudicatory councils.


Deference is defined as polite forms to high status people that significantly restricts social intercourse – but not, for example, avoidance, which is mutual.    The high status men need not be within the local area, but they should be people that the ordinary man might meet every now and then.    Government officials are excluded.

  1. Respect is not normally shown.

Araucanians:    A number of polite forms are mentioned, all relating to equals.    The most important is the shaking of hands, which is seen as making people equal. The people are sensitive about their equality. Status differences are in any case fairly slight.

  1. Respect shown to higher status men in most encounters. But egalitarian feelings are also much expressed by people and with some effects on behavior, or respect does not imply very much authority

Egypt:    The village leader is expected to compel respect by force of personality, such that ‘no one would open his mouth’, though the present leader is too mild for this. The respect given to and authority wielded by higher status people, from the father up, is seen as one of the major norms governing the social structure.    Ideals about the behavior of the village leader, and the attitude of men to their fathers, suggests that this respect does severely restrict social intercourse.    On the
other hand, a strong feeling of egalitarianism is found, reinforced by Islam, and leading to marked uniformity in dress and housing. Marriage partners seem to be chosen on the basis of kinship rather than status or wealth, with a preference for parallel cousins.


  1. Respect shown, without obvious egalitarian feelings.
    Gusii: The local chief is a government appointee, but the position antedates colonial rule and he is given powers far beyond his office by the people.’  He tolerates no contradiction or criticism, and most people are extremely deferential to him. Nothing in his way of life and the attitudes expressed about him suggest egalitarianism.


Status-based marriages

  1. status not a significant factor in marriage

Gusii:    Factors mentioned in choice of wife are incest prohibitions, looks, her sexual reputation, and the reputation of her family as regards witchcraft – nothing else.

  1. Status a significant factor in marriage; ordinary men are concerned to marry a family not too high or too low in status.

Java:     ‘A comparable restriction was that against marriage between two people widely separated in social rank’.

Ireland:    The custom known as “walking the land” insures that the farm is roughly equivalent to the dowry, which is in turn determined by the wealth of the woman’s family.  (The African bride price system does not usually have this effect, since a rich man can use his wealth to marry many wives.    The amount of wealth available also depends as much on the ratio of sons to daughters as the absolute wealth of the family)


Hereditary versus achieved status

For people within the local area. Societies without status positions as defined by the ‘status of local leaders’ variable, are unscored.

  1. Most high status people within the local area are of average status parents, or the basis of status must be earned rather than inherited. For example, if status depends on feast-giving, or on wealth but with almost all goods destroyed or given away at death. The origins of the present high status men are to be coded, not their possible successors.
    Frederik-Hendrik Island:    Named status positions are gained by the competitive giving of feasts.    This requires wealth, but wealth is not in itself a source of status.

Manus:    Though most important men are the sons of important men, this is considered to be due to dominant men having dominant sons. Status depends on wealth, and little of this is inherited.

  1. Neither heredity nor achievement is obviously more important in producing status differences.

Gusii:    Both are important.   Inheritance of wealth is a major factor, but rich men tend to have many sons and thus split their wealth.

  1. Most local high status people are of high status parents, but at least some in each local area definitely have average status parents, e.g. high status men are wealthy, and the most common source of wealth is inheritance.

Vaucluse (France):    Status comes   mainly from wealth, and this is inherited so that most children tend to inherit their parents’ status. But cases are mentioned of rich men who gained their position through hard work.

  1. Normally, no high status people in local area are of average status parents, except state officials who are not locals, and graduates of colonial education systems.

Japan: Status in Niiike is described as a result of seniority and size of lineage, seniority of family within lineage, caste and wealth. The superior wealth of one lineage is hereditary, and the increased paths to economic strength have only mitigated status differences.
Tikopia: The most important men in the local area are hereditary chiefs.


Males dominant

This measures the real say in important decisions concerning the household

  1. Statement by ethnographer that wives are more often dominant than husbands, or that most husbands are henpecked

Java:    Geertz states that households range from equality to female

  1. One at least of the following: statement that relationships are equal on average, that many men are dominated by wives, that family decisions are by consensus, or that women control household finances.

Mbuti:    Description of domestic arguments show no evidence that men have the upper hand.    A standard way for a woman to act is to dismantle the hut until the husband gives in, which he usually does.

  1. Ideal of male dominance, without any of the above qualifications
    South India: Men have the upper hand in most cases, and women are said to want a husband who is firm but not harsh.    The ideal husband should take an interest in his family’s comfort and welfare, so he clearly controls finances in the first place.


Premarital sex restricted

Societies where women marry at puberty are unscored

  1. None of the restraints mentioned below.

Frederik-Hendrik Island:    The fact that sex is seen as somewhat dangerous to a growing boy and is kept secret does not stop intercourse from being normal before marriage. Girls are actually required to sleep with older men for ritual purposes.

  1. Virginity is valued, as shown by the use of a blood test at marriage on most girls, or formal ideal of virginity, or a preference to marry girls who at least appear to be virgins, or status goes to a man who married a virgin or to a virgin bride, or premarital pregnancy a serious disgrace.
    But lack of virginity not punished (see below).

Samoa: Most girls are clearly not virgins at marriage and are not expected to be, but virginity means prestige for the bride, the groom, and his kin. Even lower class girls like to keep a nominal claim to virginity.

Gusii:    Premarital sex is normal for girls, but pregnancy results in very serious repercussions.

  1. Discovery that a girl is not a virgin, e.g. by a blood test or catching her in the act, would normally mean loss of status to her or her family, or loss of value as a bride. Or chastity is obviously the norm, but for females only.

Tepoztecans:    ‘Fathers expect their daughters to be virgins until marriage. Any trespass against this is taken to be a blow against his honor and that of the family, and incurs his most severe punishment.

  1. As above, plus definite ideal of chastity for males also.

Ireland:  The status of boy and girl involves a “repression” of sexual impulse, virginity, and chastity of thought and expression.

Adultery restricted for women

  1. Allowed under special circumstances, e.g. for ceremony, (but not neglect by the husband), or may usually be compensated by a fine without disapproval by the husband, or definite feeling of people that most women will indulge in extra-marital affairs, or most women definitely do have an affair, or a man often will not divorce wife for persistent adultery, or not considered wrong by any but husband.

Fore: Maximum possible intercourse by the young husband is enjoined as the only way to keep wife from committing adultery, which together with descriptions of a great deal of adulterous behavior suggests that this is the norm.

Frederik-Hendrik island:    Generally very much disapproved: a public accusation will force the wife to suicide. But allowed before and after head-hunting, and as wife-swapping to bond a friendship.

  1. More restricted than above but less than below, or allowed only when a husband neglects his wife,

United States:    Adultery in this New England town would never be condoned or considered usual, but nor would it drastically affect the honor of the husband.

Kgatla: Because of the need for children, adultery is sanctioned if the husband neglects his wife, but not otherwise. Though adultery is fairly common, it is not certain that most women indulge in it.

  1. Definite evidence that the whole social status of the husband is largely bound up with the fidelity of the wife, or adultery would normally lead to divorce, or statement with reasonable evidence that known adultery is very rare – e.g. no known case in local area for past half dozen years,
    or a strict double standard in force plus detailed description of male adultery without reference to married women.

Rajputs:    Adultery resulting in a child may be ignored if a scandal can be avoided and especially if a senior male in the household was the father. Otherwise it will lead to divorce.

Egypt:    The honor of men is bound up with the chastity of women, before and after marriage,   No cases of adultery were known for the past 30 years

Ireland: Adultery is very seldom considered by the people; it is taken for granted it will not occur.    Considering that a non-virgin cannot get a good marriage and girls often do not marry till their thirties, this degree of restraint is not improbable.

Women less interested in sex

Only cases with definite data are coded, which are relatively few. Societies with clitordectomy are  not coded, since our interest is in lack of sexual interest as the product of a personality type rather than an operation.

  1. Statement that frigidity in women is rare or unknown, or that women as a whole definitely enjoy sex, or that they have a stronger sex drive than men – at least according to male opinion.

Samoa:    Frigidity and impotence said to be found only with severe illness.
Rajputs:    Women are thought to have a stronger sex drive than men.
Okinawa:    Women are said to like sex, though they are more discreet about discussing it than men.

  1. Statement that many women do not normally like sex or derive little pleasure from it at some stage in their marriage, or that there is a popular belief to this effect.

Manus:    Married women are supposed to derive only pain from sex till after the birth of their first child. They convey to their daughters the attitude that it is wearisome, miserable and humiliating.
Tepoztecans:  Unmarried girls believe sex to be painful and unpleasant.

Monogamy versus polygyny

In the traditional society

  1. One half or more of women in polygynous marriages.

Barabaig:    Polygyny is the ideal and ‘many’ men have two or three wives. 50% of women would require only about one in five males to be polygynous, which seems likely from the above statement.

  1. Less than half but more than 5% of women are in polygynous marriages. Or polygyny is not the norm but not unusual,

Frederik-Hendrik Island: In the traditional society polygyny was always exceptional for economic reasons, and there are now only four such marriages in one village of 700 people, or about 3%.    Mission influence, however, has caused a considerable change and it is likely the original proportion was at least double this.

  1. Normally only in special cases: in distinct higher status groups only, or when wife is barren, or allowed but not normally found in local area. Definitely no more than 5% of women involved, where figures available.

Fiji:    Normally only for high status people in traditional times; has disappeared now.

  1. Norms do not allow

Portugal: The only sanctioned marriages are in the Catholic church, which does not allow polygyny.

Menarche (age at first menstruation)

Age twelve or earlier scores 1. For the rest, the figure is calculated by averaging the range, dropping
fractions, and subtracting ten.    Thus menarche at 16-18 would be scored as seven, 12-13 as
two, and so on.

Age of marriage for women

Where no clear marriage ceremony occurs, this is coded as age of first intercourse

  1. Within a year of puberty or earlier, where puberty is mentioned in this context
  2. To 16 or 16-17
  3. 17-20 or 20-21
  4. . 21+

Nuclear family

Based on the economic independence or otherwise of married couples

  1. Normal and ideal that two or more couples live with pooled economic resources, and unit does not usually break up at or soon after death of household head

Samoa: Households range from the biological family to 15 or 20 people, and description is all in terms of extended households. Households may be scattered in different houses, but they are an economic unit.

  1. Economic separation usual at or soon after death of household head.

Rajputs:    Land is usually split when the father dies, though brothers normally continue to share the compound and sleep in the same house.

  1. The nuclear family is normal, and most children establish economically independent households before their parents’ death. But there is normally an initial period of living as an economic unit with parents for at least six months after marriage, or one child continues to live in house, or distinct minority of households extended, or very strong ideal with some effects.
    Okinawa: The oldest son, who is ideally the heir, stays in the house of his parents when married.

Fiji:    43% of the population still in extended families. Taiwan:    The ideal of every farmer is said to be that his descendants live as an extended family, and this happened with one family in the
community studied.

  1. The nuclear family is normal, and parents form a separate household till they need to be looked after in old age. And above criteria do not apply.
    Java:    Marriage is seen as establishing an autonomous household. Parents will be looked after in old age, and other kin in need will be lodged, but it is seen as unusual and embarrassing.

Gusii:    Each polygynous wife has her own fields and cattle, though the husband has certain limited rights over these, and her own hut. There may be a number of couples in a homestead under the headship of one man, but they do   not have economic unity.  Sons establish separate households
when they marry, but contribute to looking after their mother.

Kinship solidarity

  1. No definite preference for newly married couples to live with or next door to a particular kinsman is defined by the culture, or people do not generally do so, or generally do so but expected to move away within a few years.
    Gadsup: No preference for living with any particular kin.

Tikopia:    Sons usually live in the same village as their fathers, but not necessarily the same section.

  1. Definite preference to live with particular kinsmen, and clear majority do so: 60% where figures available. Not expected to move away within a few years.

Akwe-Shavante:    The ideal pattern is for men to live with their fathers-in-law, exceptions being somewhat unusual cases such as sons of the chief. Data on composition of households supports the view that at least two thirds of men follow this pattern.  The cycle of family development assumes that men stay in the same house at least till the death of their father-in-law.

Pondo:    The described pattern of settlement is one in which married men live with the father.


This variable deals with the treatment of relatively serious disputes that occur within the local area, by bodies up to the level of the traditional political unit.

  1. The main emphasis in settling disputes is on peace, or strength, or there is no formal mechanism at all

Mbuti: Disputes are generally settled with little reference to the alleged rights and wrongs of the case, but more with the sole intention of restoring peace to the community.

Hopi:    There is no formal mechanism for solving disputes except the pressure of public opinion, which is quite strong.

Akwe-Shavante:    Theft that involves members of factions between which there is already bad blood can lead to serious consequences. The chief tries to “talk out” the matter and restore harmony.    If he is unsuccessful then the community as a whole takes measures primarily intended to restore peace rather than to restore property. So if the accused are stronger than the plaintiffs the easiest way to restore harmony is to side with the former. Other cases of theft are dealt with by identifying the thief and restoring the property.

  1. There is a strong cultural emphasis on the restoral of peace or self-help with obvious effects on verdicts. This means that the decision is usually obviously influenced by these factors. But formal methods, for example a court or formal council based on the rights and wrongs of the case are commonly used

Egypt:    There is a very strong value placed on settling disputes within the local group, in which appeals on the basis of kinship for the two parties to be reconciled are prominent.   But courts are also used at times.

Fore:    Informal courts have sprung up widely in the region, based on imitations of the Europeans.    Interrogation continues until punishment is determined and/or settlement takes place. The treatment of the accused depends very largely on his power to speak strongly,  to insist on his point, of view in defense;  and his attitude or self-confidence may achieve an acquittal. Thus, there is an emphasis on finding out who is in the wrong, but it is easily distorted by the strength of the accused.
Gadsup:    Most disputes are settled informally, but those too serious for this go to the village court.   Here the strong man would state and restate the issue, bringing the parties closer together and then suggest action acceptable to both.  The court did not impose a decision; it arrived at a decision, and since the court was the people, they had to agree and go along with the decision that was reached.   … Even the party that is reprimanded, or who has to pay a fine to the other party must feel that this really is the way it should be. Thus both the matter of justice, and the restoral of peace, are strongly emphasized.

  1. Serious disputes are settled mainly by questions of right and wrong or chance (e.g. oath-taking), without considerations of consensus or strength obviously affecting most verdicts.

Siuai:    Referring to local courts, the anthropologist says the idea of compromise is quite alien, so that most judgments are clear-cut findings for one side. The losers are very often not satisfied. The description suggests that the relative strength of the two parties is not usually important.

Son obeys father or father-in-law

This measures the extent to which men in their twenties obey their fathers or household heads. Fathers need not be living in the same household.

  1. Lack of cultural norm prescribing obedience in everyday affairs.
    Caribs: After marriage, a man usually lives with and then near his father-in-law. He must obey if asked to do some work, but there is generally avoidance between them.
  2. Cultural norm prescribes obedience in everyday affairs, but sons often take important steps without permission.

Sudan: A strong traditional norm of paternal authority has been very much weakened in recent years.

  1. Sons normally obey their fathers.

Egypt:    Obedience to the heads of various units in the social order, which includes the family, is seen as one of the major norms. The family will include married sons. Obedience training of children seems to be extremely effective, and presumably this continues past adolescence. Fathers can even let their sons do all the work, though this tends to cause resentment. One son was sued by his father for bad behavior and marrying without permission.

Wealth versus generosity as source of status

  1. Little desire or chance to amass money. The mere possession of wealth without distribution does not influence status to any appreciable extent.
    Frederik-Hendrik Island: Hoarding of resources is not possible. Ownership of garden-islands is desired, but there is no suggestion that this alone brings prestige. Status comes from feasts of competitive giving.
  2. Some people have a distinct desire to amass property, as wealth rather than consumption goods or for redistribution. Or mere possession of wealth without distribution can be a source of status, but not definitely more than generosity.

Ovimbundu:    Some men strive for wealth and do not share it, but there is tremendous hostility towards them and they do not seem to occupy a high status position.   Many men do share their wealth.

  1. Possession of wealth is definitely more important than generosity as a source of status; or definite evidence that a rich but stingy family would still have high status. Or wealth is important as a source of status and generosity as a source of status is not mentioned

Ireland: Families are ranked precisely by their wealth, though generosity is still valued.


Sharing of food and goods


Outside the family, defined as an economic unit. Not hospitality, in the sense of sharing of a meal or giving food to be eaten on the spot. Not ritual gifts at certain events such as related to marriages or sacrifices. And not competitive giving at feasts or gifts to gain a client, nor aid in an emergency.

  1. No specific norm with a strong effect on behavior that a request for something should be granted or that goods should be frequently shared out. Aid usually only in emergencies. Or there is a stated reluctance to give aid.
    Thailand: ‘The spatially extended family functions in financial crises when loans are resorted to.

Rajputs: Generosity is not taught to children, except for giving alms to beggars. Financial help from the lineage is mentioned, but only for ceremonial occasions.

  1. Specific norm of sharing are important in everyday life, but fairly exact return usually expected from those of equal status. In other words, reciprocal are a part of everyday life, but gifts without expectation of return are not.

Siuai:    A generous man is described as lending capital to relatives and neighbors and contributing pigs for funerals. The first demands an exact return, the second is a ritual gift.    An example is given of a child being told to share a banana as part of training in kin behavior, suggesting an important norm,   A catalogue of kinds of gifts is given, all involving exact returns or being ceremonial in nature.

Egypt:    There was once a custom that a guest could take anything he admired from a house, recently much less strong. Verbal expressions are common that no returns for gifts or help are expected, but precise calculations are made in fact.

Ilocos: There is a strong norm that relatives should be lent money without interest, requests being so common that families customarily conceal their financial state. This, together with other forms of aid, is described as constantly reinforcing reciprocal obligations, and so appears to be quite common.

  1. A specific norm of sharing is important in everyday life, but no exact return is expected. For example, meat is important in diet and shared without payment or exact return.

Kaoka:    There is a strong norm of sharing, taught assiduously to children, with no exact count kept either ideally or in practice. A large proportion of food is shared.

Market economy

For the traditional society.

  1. Marketing is not a recognized economic specialty among the people themselves in the local area, though there may be traders from other ethnic groups or in a minority of local communities.
  2. Marketing is a recognized economic specialty among the people themselves within the local area but marketing or working for money is not the preferred economic activity of either sex.
  3. Marketing is the preferred economic activity of at least one sex, or the main source of status, or most of production or work is for the market, or most of time spent in market activity

Food surplus

  1. Lack of food a severe or fairly regular problem for most people. Anxiety about it a is realistic part of normal calculations. Or old people are not fed, or most people would definitely like to eat more, or poor harvests and hunger a common expectation.

Mixtecans:  Food is purchased daily, for lack of money. It is said to be often difficult to feed the family.

Ilocos:    There is much anxiety about food.    For this reason, old people are fed grudgingly, since they are said to be taking food from the mouths of the children.

  1. Realistic anxiety about food at one time of the year, but not normally.
    Gusii: are a generally wealthy people, but food runs short at one period except for bananas. Older children have to learn at this time to eat less than they would like.
  2. Occasional famines or food shortages may be found, but not often and there is no yearly time of hunger and no evidence of food shortage. But there is no large economic surplus either.
  3. Marquesas: Materially they are the richest people in Polynesia, with a large amount of surplus time and leisure. There are frequent food thefts and expressed anxiety about food but they do not seem to be realistic. There have been very serious famines in the past 100 years.

Okinawa:    There is much economic anxiety and the diet is not especially high in protein, but no evidence of actual food shortages. Being fairly close to subsistence, however, food shortages in the past are not improbable.

  1. People are obviously wealthy. Or a traditional economic surplus, such as in the form of amassed goods, makes food shortage unlikely.

Manus: Have the best diet of any people in the region, and a great surplus of goods acquired in trade with other peoples that would presumably help to hedge against hunger.

Routine work:

This measures thee willingness or capacity of men for relatively monotonous work such as agriculture, jobs in urban society, or net fishing in a large group.   Work outside the local area is excluded.

  1. Agriculture less important than gathering or fishing or hunting as a source of food, or men do no routine work.

Tiwi: Hunters and gatherers.

  1. Agriculture is at least as important as gathering and fishing and men do some routine work. But not on most days, or definitely only in morning as a rule, or do little but clearing in agriculture, or do very much less than women, or spend as much time hunting.

Zulus: Men clear the bush and women do the rest of agricultural tasks. The main concern of men is with cattle.

  1. Above does not apply, but men express distinct preference for hunting or herding where this is a major economic activity. Or there is a general feeling of distaste for work with obvious effects on how much is done. Or some adult men, who are not high status, choose not to work and are accepted. Plus there are no uneasy feelings about leisure.

Lepchas:    Do a fair amount of work for most of the year, but express distaste for work. A description of road-building work showed half the men resting at any one time. Lepchas are considerably less hardworking than other peoples in the area.

  1. Men do routine work most days, without above qualifications.

Egypt:    Men work in agriculture most days. Neither hunting nor herding is a viable alternative; there is no evidence that young men can live at leisure and it seems distinctly unlikely given the attitude to even the old and high status father doing so. An attitude is expressed that work is good.

United States: Parents communicate to children that work is something unpleasant, clearly divorced from leisure. But this does not have any obvious effect on the amount done.

  1. As above, plus some uneasy feelings about leisure apart from subsistence needs, with the effect of large economic surplus.

Manus:    A tremendous work pace was kept up, largely for reasons of morality, which led to very great wealth.



Within the local, area

  1. Physical fighting is abnormal and quarreling not a common aspect of social interaction.

Lepchas:    Quarreling is rare. It creates a very unpleasant atmosphere that it is the duty of everyone to get rid of, and so is clearly an unusual state.

  1. A number of physical fights would be expected within the local area in a year, or quarreling is a common aspect of social interaction.
    Fiji: Fighting is common in the tense period from mid-November to February, but very rarely outside this time. Conflict for most of the year does not seem to have much effect on the various forms of co-operation, for example within the extended family. Its break-up in recent years has been a result of economic forces, with conflict not playing an obvious part.

Mbuti:    Camps are generally friendly, but there are many little tensions that can suddenly erupt into a large dispute.    Disputes not serious enough to warrant community judgment are settled by an argument or mild fight, which indicates both that-these are not uncommon and that they are not seen as a serious threat to solidarity. At the same time, the principle of peace is more important than the rights and wrongs of a case, so a person would not be admired for aggressiveness as such.

  1. Conflict often threatens desired solidarity within the local area or is a major cause of death, or aggressiveness in everyday interactions admired in males, or men are very sensitive to their honor and ready to fight, or they are expected to be so, or truculent or very suspicious and hostile attitude to most males in the local area normal.
    Egypt: There are extremely bitter disputes within the extended family that are weakening it, and a widely deplored trend to the use of courts because of the inability of kin groups to resolve conflicts.
    Aragon:    Males are expected to have a hot temper and the capacity to sustain resentment.

Manus: Are described as quarrelsome and overbearing. The background noise of the village is sullen, carefully guarded words punctuated by angry outbursts.


For the traditional society. Fighting is defined as being conflict between distinct groups, however small. For example, these might be kin groups, villages or hamlets. Two groups will be defined as at war if they are distinctly hostile to each other face-to-face, and at least some physical fighting is going on or likely to start.

  1. Most men not likely to be involved in group hostilities, or only in strict self-defense

Hopi:    Fought only in defense against Navaho raiders.

Japan:    No mention of fighting in lengthy discussion of youth activities. National wars do not engage most men in face-to-face hostilities. In fact, they are excluded because of the difficulty of making any comparison with smaller-scale feuds.

  1. Most men are likely to get involved in verbal or physical hostilities with other groups, and not in strict self-defense. But most of those who are involved do not actually fight, or not at any one time, or they indicate pride in peacefulness, or show relief when war is forbidden.

Egypt:    Physical solidarity is an important function of lineages at every level, but the only violence mentioned is murder and counter-murder.
Arapesh:    Fighting consists of groups massing and hurling weapons one at a time, alternating sides.

Manus:   welcomed the elimination of war because it made trading easier and more profitable.

  1. Most men traditionally involved in group fighting at times, without above exceptions. Fighting not prominent in boys’ games.

Kgatla:    Adolescence traditionally ended when the boy entered an age regiment. The new regiment was required to prove itself by fighting. As to children’s games, the village is described as being lively with the noise of their merriment as they romp or play the many singing games that figure so prominently in their repertoire. This implies that the children do little serious fighting.

Siuai:    Warfare was prominent in the traditional culture. Children imitate dances and play at family, but rarely play organized games. Friendly horseplay never remains so for long, quickly developing into angry scrapping. In other words, there is a fair amount of fighting, but very little of fighting games.

  1. As above, and a fair proportion of boys’ games involve fighting.

Fore: Boys who have gone through the first age-grading rites often play various fighting games.    This was a very warlike society.

Deities enforce morality

The extent to which norms supported by sanctions such as public opinion are also backed up by religion. Such norms might include disapproval of adultery or respect for age, but not religious
rituals, sacrifices, or incest rules. Punishment of the group or society rather than the individual is also excluded. Societies where religion is not especially prominent in everyday life, such as Western countries, are unscored.

  1. Deities are of little importance in social control. As in the last variable, it is actual effects on behavior rather than formal beliefs which are important.

Mixtecans: Religious behavior mainly involves participation in fiestas, though there is mention of sacrifice to an earth god and saints may be asked to cure illness. The section on social control and the one on childrearing contain no reference to religious morality. Nor is there a suggestion that disease may punish sins.

  1. Religion-based ethics mentioned, with some obvious effects on behavior but not to the extent below.

Frederik-Hendrik Island:  Adultery of the wife can bring a husband bad luck in hunting or other areas.    Adultery is obviously disliked quite apart from this reason. It does not matter that no particular agent is mentioned.

  1. Religion is an important sanction behind many areas of morality.
    Egypt: The very words for allowed and forbidden acts have a distinctly religious flavor. They apply equally to the breaking of Koranic prescriptions and any social norm.

Chagga:    Supernatural punishment comes from premarital pregnancy, being a sorcerer, not showing consideration or respect for the father-in-law, insubordination, dissension between spouses or within the family, crying out in childbirth, forms of greed and dishonesty, and refusal to pay fines.

Gusii:    Ancestor spirits punish intra-clan homicides and adultery, and supernatural sanctions support the authority of a man over his wives and children.

Modesty in dress: traditional

  1. No more than a pubic apron and no very strong sense of shame, or men may go naked in public outside ceremonial occasions or other special periods of license, or men may at times be careless about hiding genitals or only cover with a hand.

Mbuti:    Youths wash naked in public, though women do not.

  1. Definite shame and concern about modesty, and none of the above applies.

Manus:    Are notably prudish, but women did not cover their breasts traditionally, and girls wore grass skirts only from age 7 or 8.

  1. Modesty effectively taught to girls by age 6, and women always cover their breasts when nursing, and none of the above applies

Java:    Women cover their breasts, and care is taken over the modesty of children from age 5.


Children wanted

  1. Children may be greatly wanted and barren parents pitied, but failure to provide a child or male heir does not often lead to markedly lower status for the woman, to divorce, or to the taking of a second wife; and the birth of a son or heir does not notably raise the woman’s status. Or a distinct minority of women in the local area openly express desire for barrenness.

Tepoztecans:    Men have a very great desire for children, but women who have only a few or even none are envied.

United States:    Most women in this community welcome the idea of having a child, but there is no suggestion that it raises their status. Divorce is not a common reaction to sterility in Anglo Saxon countries.
Gadsup:    Children are greatly valued, but a number of women claim to have sterilized themselves to avoid the pain of childbirth. Whether this is the actual reason for their sterility is irrelevant.

  1. Failure to provide a child or male heir often leads to markedly lower status for the woman, to divorce, or to the taking of a second wife. Or the birth of a son or heir notably raises the woman’s status, and no distinct minority of women openly express desire for barrenness,
    Lepchas: Three out of eighteen husbands with sterile wives have taken co-wives, a standard option,  and the status of a woman rises with her first child.

Okinawa:    A father whose wife had just borne a fourth daughter is described as disgusted.    A barren woman may be divorced or forced to take the lesser role of co-wife.    Though three sons is an enviable ideal, however, many women dislike the strain of numerous pregnancies and only submit to their husbands’ demands.

  1. Many extra children past the first child or heir definitely wanted by both sexes in the great majority of cases, for reasons of status or power, and not just for economic reasons.

Rajputs:    As many sons as possible desired, since they will add to the power and status of the lineage when grown.

Gusii:    The number of children is a matter of invidious distinction for women within the extended family.

Egypt:   A woman achieved her proper status only as a mother. Seven sons is an enviable ideal, partly for economic security but for numerous other reasons as well.    Both sexes seem to share this


Punishment is coded for three periods: birth to age 2 (normally weaning), 2-5, and 6-12.  Physical punishment, severe shaming, scolding and ridicule are rare, though threats may often be used.

Barabaig:    Mothers control their children by verbal threats rather than by corporal punishment.    Examples of threats involve hyenas, and cutting off a boy’s penis.

Japan:    Loud-voiced commands, repetitious and detailed instructions, scolding or tongue-lashing, and physical beating are relatively rare and disapproved of, though moxibustion, a painful burning treatment, is used by some parents as a standard punitive measure.

  1. Severe shaming, scolding or ridicule are not uncommon, but physical punishment is rare: as a last resort after other methods have been tried, or for extremely serious and uncommon offenses.

Mixtecans:    Though mothers reported hitting children, this was never seen by the ethnographers – who felt the practice to be rare.    Scolding was the most common punishment.

Vaucluse:    An infant who persists in soiling himself may be threatened with and may even receive a few slaps on the buttocks. But reason, shame, ridicule and threats are the main methods of gaining compliance. Corporal punishment is administered only as a last resort when a child has resisted all other means of persuasion and is rarely necessary.

  1. A single slap or blow, howeverharsh, is not uncommon, even if less common than milder punishments, but repeated blows are rare: only as a last resort or for very serious offenses. That is, repeated blows would definitely not be a method of punishment found in everyday life.

Tikopia: Striking a child is described as frequently done. The commonest form of punishing a child or clearing it out of the way is a light smack on the head.

Kaoka:     Neither parent is averse to administering a light slap on the buttocks or a cuff on the shoulders once weaning has taken place, but severe punishment is the last resort.

Tahiti:     Hitting is done relatively rarely, when compared with the constant verbal threats of injuries and when compared with reported hitting practices in other Polynesian groups. But children are commonly hit on the legs with a switch. Description of various types of hitting seems to imply single blows.

  1. Repeated blows with the hand not uncommon, but repeated blows with stick or other objects rare, in the sense defined above.

Mbuti:    Children’s life is described as a frolic interspersed with spankings and slappings, which are sometimes unduly severe.

  1. Repeated blows with a stick or other physical object are not uncommon.

Swazi:    Referring to toddlers,   ‘The threat of a beating is constantly uttered by … but is seldom carried out.    Discipline becomes stricter and punishment more physical as the child grows older, but the overall impression is that Swazi children are reared with unself-conscious indulgence, relatively free from constant adult supervision.  Grandparents are said to ‘scold by the mouth, parents more often with a stick


Control is coded for three periods: birth to age 2 (normally weaning), 2-5, and 6-12.   It is defined as attempts to direct personality and behavior in a systematic way and in everyday life, and with obvious success.  This might apply, for example, to training in manners, honesty, sharing, etc.   This must be seen as important and taken seriously by adults.   It excludes any actions that might reasonably be intended to stop the child from being an immediate nuisance, such as the prevention of crying or simple avoidance for safety or ritual reasons. Obedience training is also excluded.    It must be noted that punishment may be quite harsh and common without involving control in this sense.   A very high level of control may also involve very little punishment. The two variables are quite independent in conception, even though the word ‘discipline’ could cover either.

This variable has been set up with only two levels, but if possible a third level could be added.


  1. Control or training is not a common aspect of parent-child interactions, or parents are fairly
    indifferent to activities of children after weaning.
  2. Gadsup: Children are distracted from rather than punished for sex play. Modesty is strongly inculcated in girls but not boys, and boys are the criterion where there is any conflict.    Older children are told off or hit for temper tantrums.    They may be struck for aggression against
    parents, in such a way that the child learns that an act of aggression leads to a similar act in return.    A child may raise his voice or scream at a parent, and … this is usually ignored or passed off lightly.  First impressions suggest that there is very little discipline and very little punishment to enforce etiquette, attitudes of respect towards others, and similar virtues. The general discussion of parent-child interaction does not suggest a great deal of training.

Akwe-Shavante:    ‘The only occasions on which I have heard children scolded were for crying overmuch when hurt, for refusing to run errands for their elders, and for refusing to run away when told to’.  There is no suggestion of other training, despite a long discussion of adult-child interactions.

Semai:    Though threatened for the purpose of inhibiting forms of behavior such as aggression, the child ‘learns to rely on himself and his self-control’ since ‘most of the time adults are too busy with their own affairs to be continually threatening children’. The carrying off of a child that loses its temper is described as ‘probably all the more frightening because adults usually are indifferent to
children’s activities’.

Lepchas:    ‘As far as manners are concerned, the only consciously inculcated habit is that of receiving gifts with joint hands’. Moral axioms stressing the desirability of social approval are frequently repeated to children:    “As long as you help others, others will help you”;
“Nobody will help a thief”, and so on.    On the other hand, punishments are almost entirely the result of a child being a nuisance, and adults do not normally talk to or play with children once they have
achieved physical independence.  Children are treated with a rather impersonal neglect, not taken much notice of, and their tastes are little consulted. Thus, though parents are concerned that children become truthful, helpful, peaceable, and ready to listen to their elders, it can be said that they are fairly indifferent to their activities.

Alor:    The great majority of punishment seems to be for crying and disobedience, but ‘the responsibility of boys for misdeeds, especially theft, is illustrated in a number of incidents in the autobiographies’. Since thieving is said to be something ‘in which play groups of boys frequently indulge’, and ‘parents have no scruples about appropriating any tiling a child may have’, training in honesty seems to be neither systematic nor obviously successful. The only other training mentioned is not pointing out deformities and mistakes of others, which is hardly likely to be a ‘common aspect of parent-child interactions. Few manners are taught.   (This is a marginal case).

  1. Control is a common aspect of parent-child interactions.

Okinawa:    After weaning, adults assiduously attempt to train children in basic manners. They are well drilled in safety rules, running off the road when a vehicle comes. The only mention of training in the pre-weaning period (14 pages) is ‘The gentle withdrawal of unclean objects from the child, with statements of “dirty… dirty”‘   (P. 470).
Gusii:    There is considerable training in control of aggression and sexual behavior, as well as systematic obedience and the doing of tasks, and not using obscene words.    The only training observed in infancy was a boy threatened with a stick for touching his genitals; masturbation is

Examples of positive control at age 0-2

Thailand:    The idea that children should be seen and not heard is instilled from infancy.  Aggressiveness, loudness of speech and boasting are all condemned. During the early years the mother tells the boy ‘to do as his father does, to follow his father’s example’. At about the age of 10, beatings are especially reserved for neglect of duty, climbing trees, and destroying property.

Japan:    ‘Until well into the toddling stage, a child “does not understand” attempts to train him. … Actually, of course, many principles and habits are instilled in the baby before the age of “understanding” and the real consequence … is a minimum of early punishment or negative discipline.


Swazi:    ‘Obedience and politeness are inculcated from the beginning of awareness.    Little achievements meet with warm encouragement and stereotyped praise. (This is also a marginal case).
Ireland:    ‘Until seven, the child of either sex is the constant companion of its mother.   … It learns its speech from its mother, amid a flood of constant endearments, admonitions, and encouragements.  … She constantly exercises restraints and controls over it, teaching it day by day in a thousand situations the elements of prudery, modesty, and good conduct.





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