This work analyses shifts in the relations of families, households, and individuals in a single German village during the transition to a modern social structure and cultural order. The findings call into question the idea that the more modern society became, the less kin mattered. Rather, the opposite happened. During 'modernization', close kin developed a flexible set of exchanges, passing marriage partners, godparents, political favors, work contacts, and financial guarantees back and forth. Sabean also argues that the new kinship systems were fundamental for class formation, and he repositions women in the center of a political culture of alliance construction. One of a series of important local studies coming out of the Max Planck Institute for History, it is the most thorough-going attempt to work between the disciplines of social and cultural history and anthropology, and it demonstrates the power of microhistory to reconceptualize general historical trends.
Introduction: 1. An introduction to kinship; 2. Vetterleswirtschaft: rise and fall of a political discourse; 3. The politics of incest and the ecology of alliance formation; Cohort I (1700-9): 4. Introduction to kinship during the early decades of the eighteenth century; 5. Kinship as a factor in marriage strategy; 6. Marriage and kinship practices; 7. Ritual kinship; 8. Naming children; Cohort II (1740-9): 9. Restructuring the system of alliance; 10. Village politics at mid-century; Cohort III (1780-9): 11. Consanguinity as a principle of alliance; 12. The formation of an alliance system; 13. Ritual kinship and alternative alliance; 14. Naming an patrilineal alliance; Cohort IV (1820-9): 15. Kinship at the beginning of the nineteenth century; 16. Kinship and practice at the turn of the century; Cohort V (1860-9): 17. Kinship in the mid-nineteenth century village: an introduction; 18. Networking with kin around the mid-nineteenth century; 19. Matrifocal alliance; Conclusion: 20. Consanguinity in European perspective; 21. Neckarhausen in European comparative perspective; 22. Kinship and class formation; 23. Kinship and gender.