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William H. Frey photo

Marriage, Social Inequality, and Women's Contact with Their Natal Families in Alliance Societies: Two Tamang Examples

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H., Tom E. Fricke, William G. Axinn, and Arland Thornton. 1993. "Marriage, Social Inequality, and Women's Contact with Their Natal Families in Alliance Societies: Two Tamang Examples." American Anthropologist, 95(2): 395-419.

Anthropological and other approaches to women's natal kin links demonstrate a relationship between these linkages and the reproduction of social inquality, in addition to noting implications for the social standing of women themselves. Few studies have, however, dynamically considered the simultaneous dimensions of individual history, community context, and interfamilial politics influencing such contact. Using data from two Tamang communities in Nepal, this article examines the impact of changing individual experience and interfamilial relations on home visits in the first year of marriage. Explicit attention is given to these forms of social action as a critical moment in the construction of social inequality. Informant testimony is combined with statistical analysis to demonstrate the salience of these natal visits in the early months of marriage for individual and wider social relationships. The visits are shown to be strongly related to the nature of interfamilial relations organized by marriage in addition to earlier life-course experiences of women. Different community contexts, however, condition the direction of effects for these variables in ways consistent with enduring structures of relationship.

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