Marriage, authority, and final causes: a study of unilateral cross-cousin marriage

Sentiments & Activities Free Press Glencoe, IL Published In Pages: 203-256
By Homans, George C., Schneider, David M.


The authors review and provide an alternative to Levi-Strauss's theory on unilateral cross-cousin marriage. Levi-Strauss theorized that matrilateral cross-cousin marriage (males marrying their maternal uncles' daughters) occurs more than the patrilateral form because the former promotes more "roundabout" woman-giving and overall social solidarity. He also states that the form of cross-cousin marriage does not depend on kinship linearity. In contrast, the present authors hypothesize that, among societies with unilateral cross-cousin marriage, patrilineal societies will have matrilateral cross-cousin marriage and matrilineal societies will have the patrilateral form. To justify their prediction, the authors point to the close, informal relationships fostered between males and their maternal uncles in patrilineal societies and between males and their paternal aunts in matrilineal societies.


Originally published as a small book in 1955 by Free Press. The report here was written from Chapter 14 of Homans' larger 1962 publication.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
OtherCombinationTwo samples used. The first is a 15-society subsample of Murdock's 250-society sample from Social Structure (1949). The second adds 18 more cultures from the ethnographic literature to the first 15.

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:mas Tahlisa Brougham