SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 10.1 Leavitt, G. C. (2007). The incest taboo?: A reconsideration of Westermarck. Anthropological Theory, 7(4), 393–419. DOI: 10.1177/1463499607083427
Abstract: The ongoing discussion between social scientists who espouse some variety of socioenvironmental theory (for examples see Leavitt, Incest and Inbreeding Avoidance: A Critique of Darwinian Social Science, 2005, p. 215 and Leavitt, “Disappearance of the Incest Taboo,” American Anthropologist, 1989) and those who advance Darwinian selection principles (human sociobiology, Darwinian social science, behavioral genetics, or evolutionary psychology) have often focused their debate on the incest taboo and the avoidance of inbreeding. Acknowledged by many as an important cultural universal, the incest taboo has commonly been recognized by Darwinian social scientists as the most compelling instance supporting the premise that complex human behaviors can result from natural selection. Human sociobiology forwards the argument that natural selection mechanisms will favor outbreeding because inbreeding is deleterious. By contrast, socioenvironmentalists have made the case that the incest taboo is a socioculturally derived solution to important practical problems found in human social life. In this article, I not only challenge the commonly held notion that inbreeding is injurious, but also argue that inbreeding is often harmless and even fitness-enhancing. If so, Westermarck’s hypothesis that children raised together naturally trigger selection mechanisms for sexual avoidance is highly questionable. Rather, incest and inbreeding avoidance are diverse practices related to environmental circumstances.

Journal Article 10.2 Anderson, C. M. (2000). The persistence of polygyny as an adaptive response to poverty and oppression in apartheid South Africa. Cross-Cultural Research, 34(2), 99–112. DOI: 10.1177/106939710003400201
Abstract: Many women in Africa choose polygynous over monogamous marriages even in the absence of pressure from relatives. Western explanations of polygyny assume special qualities of the polygynous husband, usually identifying exceptional economic resources as the quality that makes women willing to share a man. This study, conducted in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria from 1983 to 1986, identified other adult females as the most important resource contributing to the reproductive success of women married polygynously. For these women, the critical relationship was not with the man but with his female associates, including both kin and cowives. Western analyses of marriage overemphasize the attributes of men and disregard the contribution of bonds among females to wives’ success.

Journal Article 10.3 Nasrin, S. (2011). Crime or custom?: Motivations behind dowry practice in rural Bangladesh. Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 18(1), 27–50. DOI: 10.1177/097152151001800102
Abstract: This article highlights the reasons behind the practice of dowry in rural Bangladesh. Despite being prohibited by Islam and the civil law, people do not abstain from the practice. Hypergamy, empowerment and social values underlie the theoretical framework for analyzing the findings. This study finds both positive and negative motivations such as daughters’ well-being, gaining higher status in society and social values undergirding women’s subordination, women’s dependent status, etc., behind an escalating practice of dowry.