English Issue > 2002

An Annual English Selection - 2002 - 43 - Supplement

The Sibling Tie in Adulthood : An Analysis Based on Meeting Frequency

Emmanuelle CRENNER
Jean-Hugues DÉCHAUX
Nicolas HERPIN



pp. 41-65


What can be said of the sibling tie in adulthood ? Analysis of a survey conducted by INSEE of meetings between or among brothers and sisters (survey sample : 6,000 French households) points to three main conclusions. First, there is little that is normative about the sibling tie : number of meetings varies greatly by individual. In contrast to direct filiation, relations between siblings seem determined by choice and interest more than status-conditioned obligations. Second, inclination is nonetheless more likely to regulate sibling ties for men ; for women, regulation is more likely to be status-conditioned. Third, the sibling tie is structurally secondary to direct filiation (mother and father-adult children) : how often siblings see each other is a function of father’s and/or mother’s presence, and declines when individuals settle into couples and have their own children. The fact that the sibling tie functions as a substitute when direct filial ties are impoverished or lost further illustrates that, of the two direct blood ties, the sibling tie is structurally secondary. These properties of siblingship are probably particular to the cognatic or non-unilineal, “kindred” system which is that of modern Western kinship.



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