Does consanguinity [endogamy] inhibit democracy?

Could it be that close kin ties produced by endogamy inhibit democracy? Some evidence points in that direction. From a network analysis perspective, I would add the suggestion that the association of democracy with individualism points to the importance of weak [out-group], as opposed to strong [in-group] ties. I note, too, that I once heard it asserted that parallel cousin marriage is common in Southwest Asia, a.k.a., the Middle East. Could kin ties be a factor in the difficulty of creating functioning democracies in this region?

The roast is on the spit. Let's turn up the heat.

With a tip of the hat to Anj Petto on Anthro-L, who passed this on.

FYI, here is the abstract from the Journal of Crosscultural Psychology

Consanguinity as a Major Predictor of Levels of Democracy: A Study of 70 Nations
Michael A. Woodley and Edward Bell
This article examines the hypothesis that although the level of democracy in a society is a complex
phenomenon involving many antecedents, consanguinity (marriage and subsequent mating
between second cousins or closer relatives) is an important though often overlooked predictor
of it. Measures of the two variables correlate substantially in a sample of 70 nations (r = –0.632,
p < 0.001), and consanguinity remains a significant predictor of democracy in multiple regression
and path analyses involving several additional independent variables. The data suggest that where
consanguineous kinship networks are numerically predominant and have been made to share a
common statehood, democracy is unlikely to develop. Possible explanations for these findings
include the idea that restricted gene flow arising from consanguineous marriage facilitates a
rigid collectivism that is inimical to individualism and the recognition of individual rights, which
are key elements of the democratic ethos. Furthermore, high levels of within-group genetic
similarity may discourage cooperation between different large-scale kin groupings sharing the
same nation, inhibiting democracy. Finally, genetic similarity stemming from consanguinity may
encourage resource predation by members of socially elite kinship networks as an inclusive fitness
enhancing behavior.

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Comment by John McCreery on January 24, 2013 at 1:31am
Point taken about "consanguinity." Only used the term because it appears in the title of the article mentioned. Now thinking about the relationship between endogamy and notions of caste class or tribe that make it difficult for members of different endogamous groups to see each other as sharing a common humanity-the premise on which democracy rests. One might argue that as endogamy increases, it becomes more difficult to see the other as human, thus capable of sharing a common ground for political debate. Do you see any evidence pro or con this proposition in the Carribean?
Comment by Huon Wardle on January 23, 2013 at 12:25pm

In-marriage is a well-known method of preserving resources for a group over time; French peasants and American aristocrats have been using it forever. I would avoid the use of 'consanguinity', though, because the same effect can be produced through adoption or other varied means; students at Harvard often go on to marry each other. The elite of most democracies marry 'their own'; an article on Wallace and Darwin is a reminder that Darwin more or less hijacked Wallace's theory of evolution. In addition, as Adam Kuper has pointed out, Darwin's family had a strong tendency to cousin endogamy, so they formed a robust line of intellectual aristocrats, whereas Wallace did not.


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