Freitag, 11. Mai 2018

The familial origins of European individualism

The familial origins of European individualism, Kevin MacDonald:

"Whereas Hartman and others emphasize late marriage as the key feature of Western families, perhaps because of a heightened concern for feminist issues, an evolutionary analysis emphasizes the cutting off from the wider kinship group. This implies greater individualism as individuals are to a much greater extent enmeshed with non-relatives and forced to make their own plans for the future. For example, in contemplating marriage, couples had to have an expectation of economic viability and the ability to set up their own households and plan for their own retirement."

"Hartman emphasizes that the nuclear family resulted in people having to plan their own lives. Women, for example, would avoid pregnancy before marriage by not having sex. (Despite late marriage, illegitimacy was “extremely low.” This implied a long period of voluntary sexual restraint prior to marriage—likely resulting in selection against those, especially women, who had sex outside marriage, although courts stood ready to force marriages for women with a child born out of wedlock in order to avoid having to support them. The low level of illegitimacy in a situation where people had significant freedom to plan their own lives implies a strong role for ... the personality trait of effortful control of impulses (conscientiousness). ... Thus nuclear families meant a greater reliance on individual planning and effort. Whereas social roles, marriage partner (often first cousins) and age of women’s marriage are largely pre-determined in collectivist cultures, in the individualist areas of Europe, individuals were free to choose a marriage partner, and they had to decide when to get married, the latter decision normatively made only after securing a viable economic niche. By the fourteenth century in England, most people worked for wages paid by non-relatives, and in general children were “expected to leave home, accumulate their own wealth, choose their own marriage partners and locate and occupy their own economic niche.” There was widespread ownership of land."

"In Salem there was “an intense focus on planning for the future,” and inheriting land became less and less important as the capitalist economy took off and men pursued identities in the professions and in business within a contractual social order."

"In Salem, women became “deputy husbands,” often doing “men’s work” and taking a partnership role in family decisions and economic undertakings (e.g., managing family businesses). Men relied more on their wives than on their male kin, and in general sex differences were relatively blurred compared to Montaillou. Marriage was more egalitarian in Salem, with more of a “shared division of power between husbands and wives.”"

"Whereas in Montaillou the only women who were preyed on did not have a clan to protect them, in Salem women had some legal protection even from husbands, and they could run away and seek a divorce. Women assumed substantial responsibility for their own chastity—necessary because women interacted with more non-relatives than in Montaillou."

"Because of weaker family ties, there are higher levels of homelessness in northern Europe (because people tend to be left to fend for themselves), as well as higher levels of loneliness and suicide. On the other hand, individual initiative and dynamism are much more characteristic of northwestern European societies, traits that are “so important for democracy and civil society in the West.”

"As noted, the moderate individualist societies of northwest Europe were conducive to women acting independently and having a more equal relationship with their husbands. Even in the nineteenth century, a time when many historians have said women had lower status and withdrew from work, women were partners and “were required to keep households afloat”. “One irony is that long-range planning, risk-taking, personal responsibility, and independence have yet to be recognized as mass behaviors generated by the demands of life in distinctive sorts of households—in other words, as normative conduct required of everyone in late-marriage, weak-family settings.

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