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The article in question dwells upon solidarity among full and half-siblings in a polygamous community. The researchers analyze relationships in families of Mormons living in Angel Park. Jankowiak and Diderich (2000) employ major concepts of inclusive fitness theory. It is necessary to note that the issue of relationships within blended families has not had sufficient attention from researchers though there is a vast amount of literature on sibling differentiation within nuclear middle-class families living in the USA.
Since there is no “in-depth ethnographic study of sibling solidarity in polygamous families” or “no study of sibling solidarity among blended or reconstituted families”, the researchers focus on this issue and try to identify the correlation between family bonds and societal norms (Jankowiak & Diderich, 2000, p. 126). Notably, the results of the present research suggest that inclusive fitness theory is consistent in polygamous families.
The research was conducted in the sectarian religious settlement, Angel Park, located in the south-western part of the United States. Thirty-two polygamous families (each family is a household of a man) or seventy individuals were interviewed. The research was conducted between 1992 and 1999 though most data were collected from 1997 to 1999. It is necessary to add that a snowball sampling method was employed to achieve the goal of the research.
The researchers use the following forms of solidarity: “normative, functional, effectual, and societal” (Jankowiak & Diderich, 2000, p. 130). Normative solidarity is the degree to which a family member is committed to perform certain family roles or take up responsibilities. Factual solidarity is family members’ readiness to assist each other and exchange resources. Effectual solidarity is the way family members feel about each other. In other words, this is the degree of their closeness and the way they express their affection. Associational solidarity is the frequency and nature of interactions.
The researchers examined three hypotheses. First, Jankowiak and Diderich (2000) assume that if ideology plays a major role in forming sibling solidarity, there should be the same closeness between half and full siblings. Secondly, if structural proximity is the major factor affecting sibling solidarity, such variables as age, gender, or degree of relatedness will have an impact on the development of sibling loyalty. Finally, if inclusive fitness is the major factor affecting sibling solidarity, stronger loyalty will be manifested between full siblings.
Jankowiak and Diderich (2000) claim that the first and second hypotheses have not been proved. However, the researchers state that the third hypothesis has been proved. It turns out that family bonds are stronger than societal norms or religious canons. Thus, full siblings reveal a stronger degree of solidarity in all four dimensions mentioned above. It is necessary to note that Jankowiak and Diderich (2000) report quite unexpected findings as most family members noted that they had closer bonds and a more respectful attitude towards their mother even though religious beliefs of Mormons are based on highly patriarchal concepts.
It is also noteworthy that sibling solidarity in full siblings is strong irrespective of the degree of rivalry which can be rather significant as children have to compete for their mother’s (and/or father’s) attention. The authors reveal certain limitations to their research and stress that they could not identify whether the trend towards full sibling solidarity is “a by-product of a mother’s guidance” (Jankowiak & Diderich, 2000, p. 137). At that, the researchers note that the data obtained provide insights into issues that are often faced in blended families where parents try to promote certain ideas of sibling solidarity and loyalty.
It is important to add that the authors are working at the Anthropology and Sociology Departments of the University of Nevada. The article can be regarded as reliable as it is published in a peer-reviewed journal. The authors refer to a variety of relevant sources that provide insights into numerous issues associated with sibling solidarity as well as inclusive fitness theory.
Remarkably, Jankowiak and Diderich (2000) implement the research that sheds light on the development of sibling solidarity and factors that tend to affect this process. Clearly, inclusive fitness theory has proved to be consistent within polygamous families. These findings may have a variety of implications in numerous settings and can become the basis of further research.
Apart from the major concern of the research, Jankowiak, and Diderich (2000) provide valuable insights into the life of Mormons (or rather one of the settlements of this religious group) in the USA. It is apparent that major religious canons remain unchanged but these strict rules become blurred in the contemporary world. Thus, even though families in a settlement have to live in harmony and form a big and homogenous family, there are certain clans.
Most importantly, families live in accordance with patriarchal rules but family members tend to feel more attached and respectful to their mothers rather than fathers. Jankowiak and Diderich (2000) stress that interviewees were also surprised to understand that they are more respectful towards their mothers but this understanding did not lead to denial. One of the interesting findings was the way to reveal functional solidarity. Lending money is seen as one of the most potent types of instrumental assistance which is valued significantly. Jankowiak and Diderich (2000) note that scarcity of resources may explain this peculiarity of life in such a community as a religious settlement.
As has been mentioned above, the present study helps understand the way sibling solidarity develops. Thus, it is clear that full siblings will be closer to each other and this closeness will be manifested even more in blended families. Jankowiak and Diderich (2000) state that there is a rivalry between full siblings as well as between half-siblings. However, this rivalry may become more serious when it happens between full and half-siblings.
Apart from mentioning the issues involved, Jankowiak and Diderich (2000) suggest a factor that may have an impact on the development of solidarity between siblings. The way mothers bring up their children has a great effect on sibling solidarity though this process is yet to be researched.
Jankowiak, W., & Diderich, M. (2000). Sibling solidarity in a polygamous community in the USA: Unpacking inclusive fitness. Evolution and Human Behaviour, 21(1), 125-139.