Settlement patterns and community organization: cross-cultural codes 3

Ethnology Vol/Iss. 11 Published In Pages: 254-295
By Murdock, George Peter, Wilson, Suzanne F.


This article investigates residence, descent rules, and family structure. Empirical analysis suggests that they are associated with settlement patterns, particularly economic and demographic variables.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Ethnographic Reports

Hypotheses (6)

"Matrilineal descent is almost invariably found in association with either avunculocal or matrilocal residence, patrilocal residence accompanies patrilineal, ambilineal and double descent, whereas bilateral descent coexists freely with all except avunculocal rule" (273-274)Supported
In correlating descent with prevailing subsistence economy the distribution of cases refutes two evolutionary 19th century assumptions: 1) Matrilineal priority--there was only 1 case in 25 of matrilineal descent among hunter-gatherers 2) unilinear descent during the millenia when men subsisted by food-gathering in absence of agriculture and animal husbandry. 84 percent of hunter-gatherers are characterized by cognatic descent (275)Supported
Patrilineal descent clearly reflects the domenstication of large animals as shown by its occurrence among pastoral societies, as well as by the importance of domesticated animals in the economies of 21 of the 44 agricultural mercantile societies which are patrilineal (275)Supported
"Matrilineal descent reaches its highest frequency at the intermediate evolutionary level of incipient agriculture and declines with the rise of food production to a dominant position" (273)Supported
"[There is] a marked tendency for mean population density to increase in direct proportion to the complexity of the prevailing techniques of food acquisition or production" (275-276)Supported
In societies with mother-child households the father's relationship to the child is more remote than in societies with other household types. However, mother-child households are concentrated in Negro-Africa and in Negro tribes in the Cirum-Mediterranean (276-278)Supported

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:mas Amelia Piazza