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Kinkeeping in the Familial Division of Labor

Carolyn J. Rosenthal
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 47, No. 4 (Nov., 1985), pp. 965-974
DOI: 10.2307/352340
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352340
Page Count: 10
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Kinkeeping in the Familial Division of Labor
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Abstract

In a stratified random sample of adults aged 40 and older, interviewed in Hamilton, Ontario, more than half the respondents indicated that there was someone in their extended family who could be considered a "kinkeeper," someone who works at keeping family members in touch with one another. In this study kinkeeping is viewed as a position in a familial division of labor. The paper examines the identification of the position, the work of kinkeeping, the way in which the position is structured, the dynamics of position occupancy, and the consequences for families of having a kinkeeper. Kinkeeping is primarily a female activity and is related to the importance sibling relationships hold for people. The position of kinkeeper persists over time, and occupancy is frequently passed from mother to daughter. Having a family kinkeeper is related to greater extended family interaction and greater emphasis on family ritual at both extended family and lineage levels.

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