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Unity in Diversity? Historic Family Forms in Southeastern Europe

Ulf Brunnbauer

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 616 Kb

str. 95-148

preuzimanja: 951



This article argues that household organization in Southeastern Europe in the past can be understood only, if family forms are related to their social environment and the political economy. The significant variation in household formation patterns in Southeastern Europe, thus, is the result of an equally significant variety of patterns of social and political organization. The article starts with a critical review of the debate on complex household forms (the so-called zadruga) in Southeastern
Europe. This debate, which was especially vital in the 1990s, not only produced original research on historic family forms in Southeastern Europe but also reflected on the association of specific family forms with “Europe”. After that I present the results of my own research on family forms and economy in the nineteenth century Rhodope Mountains in today’s Bulgaria. In this mountain region, the Christian population lived predominantly in nuclear families, while among the
Muslim population (Pomaks), multiple family households were frequent. Yet, the average size of their households was also small. These findings have provoked me to ask why social organization in this mountain region was obviously very different to the mountain regions in the western parts of the Balkan Peninsula, where large, complex households dominated. I conclude that the level of integration into
the state and the market was the major difference. The Rhodope Mountains were well integrated into the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century, and the state could provide safety. So, there was no need for the local population to organize themselves into tribes and create large, complex households for self-defense. The population in the Rhodope Mountains could also rely on the village community as
a territorialized close network of reciprocal ties. In conclusion, the article argues against both culturalist and ecological explanations of family forms but stresses the importance of the political and legal framework.

Ključne riječi

family forms, household organization, zadruga, Southeastern Europe, Rhodope Mountains

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