Brothers and Sisters in India

Brothers and Sisters in India: A Study of Urban Adult Siblings

G.N. RAMU
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442671591
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Brothers and Sisters in India
    Book Description:

    Indian society is urbanizing rapidly, and while the level of urbanization and the values associated with it have yet to correspond with those of Western societies, the traditional ethos governing sibling relations is becoming increasingly less relevant to contemporary Indian brothers and sisters, especially those who live in urban areas. G.N. Ramu explores this phenomenon inBrothers and Sisters in India, the first detailed study of adult siblings in contemporary Indian society.

    Based on sixteen months of field work in Mysore City and over three decades of research in this area, Ramu's study focuses on the three sibling types (fraternal, sororal and cross-sibling), and examines the frequency of interaction between siblings, the level of mutual assistance, and the incidence of conflict and strains in routine relations. Ramu's findings are significant, and differ substantially from what one typically finds in research on family and kinship patterns in contemporary India. The brothers and sisters investigated in this study, together demonstrate that the nature and function of kinship ties in India are undergoing striking changes - changes which may converge with similar patterns found in Western societies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7159-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-40)

    In this study we explore adult sibling relationships in an Indian urban setting. Sibling relationships are unique because they endure throughout one's life and are firmly situated in one's genetic, familial, and cultural roots. In India, cultural ideals and expectations demand that siblings maintain solidarity throughout their lives, and many rituals and festivals are observed to reinforce this solidarity. But these ideals and norms are not universally followed. There are frequent conflicts and occasional fights between siblings, especially in rural areas, where inheritance can become a contentious issue for brothers. However, custom demands that even feuding siblings stand by one...

  5. 2 Setting, Methodology, and Respondents
    (pp. 41-60)

    The study was conducted in the city of Mysore, in Karnataka state in southern India. Karnataka, which had a population of more than 44 million (5.3 per cent of India's population) in 1991, is India's eighth largest state in area and population.¹ Mysore is the second-largest city in Karnataka, with more than 600,000 people, and a district and divisional capital. It is also one of the fastest-growing cities in southern India, with new manufacturing and software industries establishing production facilities there. Mysore's urban-industrial character is well established (as we will point out in the next section); however, the city also...

  6. 3 Fraternal Relationships
    (pp. 61-106)

    As we noted in chapter 1, in the mainstream literature the discussion of bonds among adult brothers has often centred on the ‘ideal type,’ with ethnographic illustrations to substantiate it. Mandelbaum (1970:34) summarizes this ideal type as follows:

    The common ideal is that of filial and fraternal solidarity, which prescribes that brothers should remain together in the parental household after they marry, sharing equally in one purse and in common property, helping each other according to need and each giving according to his best abilities. Brothers should not only cleave to one another, but even more important, they should remain...

  7. 4 Sororal Relationships
    (pp. 107-140)

    In many ethnographic studies there are some references to ties between sisters in childhood and adolescence, and especially to the role of the eldest sister as a surrogate mother (see for example Minturn, 1963; Mandelbaum, 1970 [chapters 3, 4, and 5]). However, few studies have addressed such questions as these: What happens to sisters once they are married and move away from the parental home? What forms do their relationships with the natal home take? How frequently do they meet? Where do they meet? Is there any significant exchange of aid? Even in focused analyses such as the one conducted...

  8. 5 Cross-Sibling Relationships
    (pp. 141-194)

    Generally, cross-sibling relationships are dealt with by anthropologists as an adjunct to discussions of the role of the male in a joint family or patrilineal household. For example, Mandelbaum (1970:67), summarizing the findings of previous research on the joint family, notes that brother-sister relationships are 'stable, durable and affectionate.' Often these relationships are asymmetrical in that a brother gives more to his sister than he receives from her, and gives to her out of duty, affection, and concern. Consequently, the married woman refrains from any act that might jeopardize her continuing association with her natal family ibid., 68-70). In essence,...

  9. 6 Conclusions
    (pp. 195-200)

    This was an exploratory study with a purposive sample, so no firm generalizations can be made. Another limitation of this study was that it did not deal withallthe siblings of the respondents. Furthermore, it examined the relationships between the respondents and theirclosestsibling. Had the respondents' relations with all of their siblings been included in this study, perhaps the findings would have been different. Because the closest siblings of the respondents were not interviewed, the resulting profile of sibling solidarity was based solely on the perceptions of the respondents we interviewed. Yet even with these limitations, some...

  10. Appendix: Interview Schedule
    (pp. 201-240)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 241-248)
  12. References
    (pp. 249-260)
  13. Index
    (pp. 261-269)