On the incompatibility of duty and affection: a note on the role of the mother's brother

American Anthropologist Vol/Iss. 68 Published In Pages: 1009-1013
By Sweetser, Dorrian Apple


"[In societies where] jural authority [is] in the hands of the father or his lineage . . . mother's brother [will have] an unequivocally male-mother role [indulgent]" [This hypothesis is taken from Homans and Schneider] (1010)


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Binomial testNot Supportedp<.10UNKNOWNUNKNOWN


Variable NameVariable Type OCM Term(s)
Mother's Brother (role)DependentKin Relationships
Patrilineal-patrilocal SocietiesIndependentRule Of Descent, Lineages

Related Hypotheses

Main AuthorHypothesis
Sweetser, Dorrian Apple"[In patrilocal societies, and also in matrilocal societies,] the proportion of societies with a distinctive role for the mother's brother . . . increase[d] as the lineal-emphasis scale scores increased . . ." (1012)
Sweetser, Dorrian Apple"The role of the mother's brother toward [ego] ought to vary with that of the mother's brother toward the mother. Assuming that the mother is to some degree superior to the boy, then if the mother's brother has some authority over the boy, one would expect him to have some authority over the mother. If he has none over the son, being close and indulgent, he should have no authority over the mother" (292)
Sweetser, Dorrian Apple"Women avoid their parents-in-law in the same type of situation [as men do], and in addition they are likely to avoid if the mother's brother has no role to play" (313)
Zelditch, Morris"A breakdown of the instrumental role into provision [economic support] and socialization functions [in matrilineal cases shows that] . . . the husband-father [not the mother's brother] is generally held responsible for the support of his own wife and children" (330)
Schlegel, Alice"There is a significant association . . . between Mother's Brother Control and special concern about sibling incest" (124)