Agricultural Versus Animal Husbandry Societies

Evidence from the anthropological record suggests that in animal husbandry societies, mate choice is controlled more and men are more dominant than in agricultural societies (Apostolou, 2010). It has to be said that this conclusion is based predominantly on one study, i.e., Apostolou (2010), in which there were not so many societies which based their subsistence on animal husbandry. Thus, more research is necessary in order to examine the degree that these society types differ in their mating patterns. Assuming that this difference is real, we can ask what can account for it.

In terms of the model of parental choice, it needs to be the case that the opportunity cost of free mate choice is higher in animal husbandry than in agricultural societies. In the latter societies, parents are more in need of their children to farm the land, which in turn, decreases their capacity to inflict a cost on them to align them with their will (d). On the other hand, the herding of animals is not so physically demanding and older individuals can perform it. Thus, the higher dependence of parents on the labor of their children in agricultural than in animal husbandry societies may be one of the reasons behind the observed difference in parental control.

In both society types, it is the father who controls subsistence-generating resources, so it is fathers in agropastoral society who are more in need of their children’s labor in order to maintain their wealth. In effect, fathers in animal husbandry societies are less dependent on their children’s labor, and so, they may have more power over their children than fathers in animal husbandry societies.

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