Mediterranean Kinship Groups
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Honor and Shame 182

Male and Female Members

Eyes of ShameAll Mediterranean kinship groups had a social system of honor and shame. Carolyn Osiek and David L. Balch assert in "Families in the New Testament World - Households and House Churches" that "a common cultural heritage in Mediterranean societies held that the fundamental values of these families revolved around honor and shame in social relationships through sex and gender roles. Accordingly, male and female systems are distinctly different yet totally involved in the kinship groups with each other."

Maintaining Power and Status

Kinship in EuropeMale honor in kinship groups consisted in maintaining the status, power, and reputation of the male members over against the threats that may be thrown against it by outsiders. Each exchange between males of different kinship groups is seen as a contest for honor. Within the kinship group, the absolute loyalty and deference of each male member is expected, according to his proper role in the hierarchy of authority within the family. Aggressiveness, virility, sexual prowess, and the production of sons are important components in Mediterranean society. The crucial thing, both for individual males and for families, is that one's claim to status and power is matched by other's perception. This is the coherence of ascribed and attributed honor. To claim greater honor than is recognized by others would incur the shame of one who does not know his place in society.✞

"Mediterranean Kinship Groups"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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