Chapter 4 (pt.1)
Inter-Personal Categories of Relations
Father and Son
Grandfather and Grandson
Ancestor and Descendant
Women in the Lineage
Mother's Brother and Sister's Son
The Influence of Locality
The Operation of Formal Relations
The Influence of Personal Preference
There is another aspect to the formal organization of Tale society, one which is not centered on any single principle. This is the organization of interpersonal relations. By formal relations I refer to recognized and ongoing social bonds carrying reciprocal rights and/or obligations. Although manifestations of such relations of necessity occure between individuals, they exist outside the interactions of particular individals. They are organized by categories, in their content, and on various dimensions in their frequency of activation and density within a population. Not all relations are formal, of course. Informal relations vary from formal in that they are not extra-personal and ongoing. They are entered into by individuals, and defined by those individuals, not by external standards. As we shall see, formal relations dominate among the Tallensi. In any study of social organization the quantitative relationship between the two types of relations will be of importance. Whether informal or formal, relations cannot be reduced to individuals or to patterns of individual choices. They exist as an object of study in their own right.
In this chapter we shall look first at types of relations, both categories of formal relations and informal relations and personal contracts. In the second part of the chapter we shall turn to look at the social interaction and contact, particularly as they are influenced by personal preference, by locality within Taleland, and by migration. It should be remembered throughout that relations may or may not follow the lines of corporate organization directly. Of course they are always influenced by the corporate context within which they occur, but they have an equal claim to an autonomous view. We have argued that the interpersonal relations among agnates and their sharing of cognatic relations are crucial in differentiating the various orders of corporations. Cognatic and informal relations are also a counterforce to the principle of agnatic descent and thus help to allow for variation and adjustment in the social organization, and for a multiplicity of individual options. A last note before we proceed: relations originally between individuals may, through the principle of agnatic descent, be deemed to obtain between corporate groups, that is, between the descendants of the original parties to the relationship. The relation does not create the corporate groupings, though it affects their interaction. We shall consider such instances in this section, for they are essentially inter-personal relations among ancestors, extended to corporate groups as the ancestors are the foci of definition of those corporate groups.
Inter-Personal Categories of Relations
We have already noted the general characteristics of the relational perspective taken in this chapter; its theoretical underpinnings will be dealt with further in Chapters 5 and 6. In this part of the discussion, when we speak of 'categories' of interpersonal relations, we are speaking of static formal criteria which define a number of concrete interpersonal relationships. Thus the category of relation 'brothers' has a number of referents in on the ground relationship. It is important in understanding all of the relations which we shall consider to recognize this static quality of definition, for it is primarily this which distinguishes formal from informal relations. Purely by convention we shall designate as categories only those forms of relation recognized as such in Tale usage. The various informal relations we shall distinguish from each other as 'types' in order to emphasize our imposition of a classification on observed phenomena rather than asserting that, as in the case of 'categories' the classification partially determines the relationship.
Though our terminology is purely a matter of convention, the distinction is not simply a matter of convenience. The static categories give to the relations they encompass a similarity in form over time, as well as a symbolic identity. The rules which are associated with the categories act to provide a definition, and a limitation of options for individual action. These formal interpersonal relations then, are not purely matters of individual 'contract' or decision. By virtue of this they are less subject to variation, an important factor in determining social stability (see Chapters 6, 7 and 8).
There are two basic principles which govern the Tale construction of social relations, both formal and informal: mutuality and reciprocity. These concepts will be developed further as we note their concrete referents, but briefly, the former refers to relations in which both (all) parties are identified with each other. Parties to such relationships do not contract debts by borrowing from each other, for example. The relation of brothers is paradigmatic. Collective interests are common, the result of equivalence. Reciprocity, on the other hand, obtains in bonds which imply a distinction between parties. This is a distinction of both social identity and interest. Collective interests are the result of either exchange or the joint necessity of differing contributions. Benefits are not common, but coordinate. That is, they are achieved by cooperation but not received or held in common. The relation of father and son (or, more, mother's brother and sister's son) is paradigmatic. Mutuality implies the same configuration of rights and obligations in each direction of the relationship; reciprocity implies complementary but different rights and obligations.
Let us proceed to look individually at the main Tale categories of relations. All formal relations among the Tallensi are kinship relations. These, of course, divided into the primary sets of agnatic and cognatic relations.
Inter-Personal Categories of Relations - Agnatic Relations - Brothers - Father and Son - Grandfather and Grandson - Ancestor and Descendant - Women in the Lineage - Cognatic Relations - Marriage - Affines - Mother's Brother and Sister's Son - Maternal Grandparents - Ancestors - Cognatic Relations - Informal Relations - Social Interaction - The Influence of Locality - The Operation of Formal Relations - The Influence of Personal Preference