Accepted Paper:

Kin-group characterisation and competition for local resources in rural Yakutia  

Author:

Csaba Mészáros (Research Centre for the Humanities)

Paper short abstract:

In Yakutia people are often described by moral values uniformly characteristic of their kin-groups. I describe how this system of characterisation contribute to integrating village communities divided along kin-groups and how it helps regulating the competition for local resources and state benefits among villagers.

Paper long abstract:

In Yakutia people are often described by moral values uniformly characteristic of their kin-groups. This special kin group character can be inherited by individuals, and is in the focus of local communication, creating a system of rumour. Relying on a 10-month fieldwork, by the comparison of two village communities I exemplify two different ways of how this system of characterisation is used to regulate the competition of villagers for local resources (such as hayfields, fishing ponds) and state benefits (salary jobs, pension). One of the communities is not divided along lineage lines, because here cooperation and the feeling of togetherness are practically restricted to nuclear families. The system of kin-group characterisation only aims to secure one's positive evaluation, without attaching peculiar moral values to him/her. Thus, this system of rumour results in a type of communication where moral values are either beneficial or detrimental, generating a socially divisive village community, where individuals participate in a sharp competition for symbolic power. In the other village the still effective and meaningful lineages divide the community, but by the help of a more complex communication on kin-group characters, the competition for symbolic power is relatively balanced, resulting in a fairly integrated and cooperative village community.

Panel W002
Markets, kinship and morality