> The social costs on women, children and (actually) men
> were enormous. Death rates for women - (sorry but I do
> not have them to hand) - hidden abuse for children and
> the sheer unpleasentness of existing within the extremely
> violent socities of the time.
Women died primarily in childbearing. It was the major
cause of death. Hidden abuse of children has hardly changed
and it could easily be argued that they are worse. There is
an epidemic of child abuse today. Virtually 100% of all
federal prisoners in the Canadian federal prisons where
such statistics are kept, have medical histories of life
threatening physical abuse and sexual abuse as children,
for example. Sexual abuse of children was apparently the
norm in Freud's Vienna.
I have not read the most recent ethnographies and the most
recent reports on higher primate life styles, but it is
hardly any more violent than anything current. Generally
people lived in stable relationships throughout the whole
range of human evolution as far as we can see. The local
group in pre-agricultural societies in all ethnographies of
pre-agricultural societies I have ever read was more stable
than anything now. Violence occurred on occasion, but not
usually within the local group. The extended local group
was essentially stable over the life of the child for most
children. Violence occurred and is an important factor when
counting up causes of death, but hardly were daily
occurrences or matters which impinged upon daily life, any
more than road accidents do in ours. They occur but they
are not daily occurrences impinging upon normal
development. This is clear in the detailed descriptions of
higher primates as well.
As far as early 20th Century, I am only aware that prior to
the Second World War, most individuals grew up, got married
and were buried within a small distance of a few miles,
according to demographic statistics. Working hours do not
greatly interfere with stability of a relationship unless
the person is absent for long periods, weeks and months.
Working hours in pre-agricultural society are estimated to
about 8 a week. Working hours in agricultural societies are
estimated at 20 hours a week. In both cases children are
with their parents while they work. It is only in
industrial societies where working hours go up and where
workers are removed from their families. Most work in the
US until the 20th Century was rural agricultural work and
most workers lived with and worked with their families
The stability of the local extended family is pretty
established and local social relationships and pray groups
were in fact also stable.
We as a species never were naked savages bent on eating
each other alive. And most parents were not involved in
abusing and sexually abusing their offspring. That is a
In pre-contact Australian society, the senior women made
the most important economic decisions and had control over
the most important sources of social wealth, their own
daughters. The Mother ot the mother in law was the person
who decided who would be bestowed as mother in law and this
bestowal was the only way to obtain any kind of social
recognition or respect in the society. All other matters
depended on it. The woman had the choice. And held the
>> This changed drastically, starting in the 50s, up to
>> the point where it is now unusual for any family to
>> remain in a stable social network during the
>> individuals' childhoods. Families move, break up,
>> changing schools and neighborhoods. Family networks are
>> reduced to occasional interactions through telephone
>> and gifts and occasional holidays. One can have several
>> sets of siblings which can change and other than one or
>> two individuals, no stable relationships throughout
> Prior to the 20thc and in the early parts of the 20thC
> death and the extremes of working hours rather eradicated
> stable relationships.
In may have made life difficult but hardly eradicated any
relationship. It is a serious mistake to confuse stability
of a relationship with time devoted to it or its intensity.
These are quite different things. If I have a cup of coffee
at the same coffee stand for 30 years every morning, that
is a pretty stable relationship. It may not be intense, or
take up a lot of time in my life, but it is certainly
With regard to extremes of working hours in pre-20th
Century work, quite the country. Pre-industrial society
labored approximately 20 hours a week in the most marginal
environments and families labored together. In
Pre-agricultural societies in desserts such as the Kalahari
or North Alaska, the average work week was about 8 hours.
In lush environments, there was a continuos and rich and
constant stable relationship among the members of the local
group. Most people in the US were not industrial workers
until quite recently, when looked at from an evolutionary
>> Throughout the evolution of the species for sure,
>> children grew up in stable social networks where
>> bonding was permanent throughout life and social roles
>> were well defined. I mean, there were always the same
>> grandparents, parents and siblings and parents'
>> siblings and so forth throughout childhood at least.
>> Children were not emotionally dependent on only a one
>> or two individuals, and there was a wide range of
>> models and bonds. Close kin were clearly defined and
>> formed a stable emotional network.
> The average age and early death rates for women - in
> childbirth etc suggest that this is another "golden age"
> argument. Try Donzelot's Policing of families for a short
> and sharp historical reminder of what a phantasy the
> extended and/or nuclear family actually constitutes.
> Alternativly any reasonable feminist criique will do as
Not a golden age argument at all.
Death rates were high for women, but my point was not that
life was easy or fun, but that children played in stable
play groups during their early development and that their
was always a known and recognized adult around and no
strangers. One's relationships and the range of
relationships in most of human history was very limited to
a very well known and restricted group that was defined by
one's birth and didn't change.
That is the record in all ethnographic accounts I am aware
Extended and nuclear families are such separate issues as
to be almost unrelated. The nuclear family as such is not a
strongly recognized entity in most ethnographic accounts
that I am aware of, but a stable local group, no matter
what you want to call it is the well established fact of
nature of social groups throughout the human species, and
throughout all the species closely related to us. In
non-human species, the group is based on female kinship,
and in humans, it would be unreasonable to assume otherwise
in the absence of any contrary evidence. It does seem to be
the fact in most human groups. I am talking of bonded
dyadic relationships and not cultural categories.
One's kin friends and neighbors is known and remains stable
throughout life, in the Gombe reserve, or the Neanderthal
camp or the Olduvai Gorge troop.
>> It is well known that poor social networks have serious
>> negative effects on health of adults. Today children
>> grow up in homes where all but one or two individuals
>> are unreliably present, where schools are frequently
>> changed, where there are no stable relationships with
>> play groups, and no stable relationships with either
>> adults or peers.
>> It would seem to me that this would have at least as
>> profound an effect on emotional development and
>> learning emotional response and interpretation as lack
>> of social response in media, although what the effect
>> would be would differ. It would seem to me that the
>> grand economic alterations which have occurred in the
>> later half of the 20th Century have created
>> socialization contexts completely unique in the history
>> of the species.
>> To what extent have these factors been examined?
> Not within the scope of the evol-psych areas -