Does gender structure social networks across domains of cooperation? An exploration of gendered networks among matrilineal and patrilineal Mosuo

Siobhán M. Mattison, Neil G. MacLaren, Chun Yi Sum, Mary K. Shenk, Tami Blumenfield, Katherine Wander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cooperative networks are essential features of human society. Evolutionary theory hypothesizes that networks are used differently by men and women, yet the bulk of evidence supporting this hypothesis is based on studies conducted in a limited range of contexts and on few domains of cooperation. In this paper, we compare individual-level cooperative networks from two communities in Southwest China that differ systematically in kinship norms and institutions - one matrilineal and one patrilineal - while sharing an ethnic identity. Specifically, we investigate whether network structures differ based on prevailing kinship norms and type of gendered cooperative activity, one woman-centred (preparation of community meals) and one man-centred (farm equipment lending). Our descriptive results show a mixture of 'feminine' and 'masculine' features in all four networks. The matrilineal meals network stands out in terms of high degree skew. Exponential random graph models reveal a stronger role for geographical proximity in patriliny and a limited role of affinal relatedness across all networks. Our results point to the need to consider domains of cooperative activity alongside gender and cultural context to fully understand variation in how women and men leverage social relationships toward different ends. This article is part of the theme issue 'Cooperation among women: evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20210436
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume378
Issue number1868
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 16 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences

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