The World Cultures eJournal welcomes articles, data, and comparative research material dealing with any aspect of human behavior. Publication of any comparative database, regional or worldwide, will be considered. Submissions of programs and teaching materials are welcomed, as are communications on research, coding, sources, and other materials of interests to comparative researchers.
Volume 20, Issue 1, 2015
Monogamy is ethnographically peculiar as an ethical ideal and emerged in the Early Middle Ages as a form of sexual repression imposed by the Church and employed by secular authorities to decompose powerful elite lineages. In its continued modern form, the independent and isolated monogamous household has been advanced as socially optimal by economists and as essential to civilization by anthropologists. Although marriage, as a rightful claim on the sexuality of a woman, is a nearly universal institution, recent legislation and judicial opinion in both Europe and the United States have abrogated this basic marital right with the new crime of “marital rape”, thereby undermining the essential and defining characteristic of marriage. It is argued herein that these changes reflect the loss of relevance and significance of the domestic household to contemporary systems of capital accumulation; and it is in this new context that same-sex marriage becomes feasible.
The three sections of this article illustrate why cross-cultural research has not worked for some key social science questions and has worked for others. The three sections involve interpretation of causality from correlations, causality not based on correlations, and maps pertinent to understanding aspects of male-female and husband-wife equalities and inequalities.
Today a convergence between the fields of anthropology and economics has re-emerged after decades during which the dictates of methodological individualism, as strikingly elucidated by Kenneth Arrow, had seriously limited and hampered effective scholarship in studies of economic and social development in developing countries. A new generation of development economists represented by Spolaori and Wacziarg (2013) and (Spolaori 2016) has reopened the possibility of fruitful cross-disciplinary interaction, enabling economists and anthropologists to investigate those many social structures wherein resources are jointly held and wherein social goals are the product of interests held by groups, rather than exclusively by pairs of individuals stripped of a context of ethics.
The continually expanding data of Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (Murdock and White 1969) provide a wide range of variables that make it possible to test theories regarding development and causality in human societies. Furthermore, new software facilitates the testing of these theories in the context of diffusion, historical language families and ecological contexts. Together, the data and the new software are essential to any effort to test theories of human evolutionary history and development.