Cross-Cultural Correlates of the Ownership of Private Property

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Rudmin, Floyd Webster
Cross-Cultural Correlates , Private Property
Simmons’ (1937) data base of 109 variables measured on 71 societies was reanalyzed. Reliability comparisons were made with Murdock’s (1967) Ethnographic Atlas. Eliminated were 3 of Simmons’ cultures because of duplicated sampling within culture clusters, 12 variables because of missing data, 7 variables because of invariance, and 1 variable for doubtful reliability. A conservative analysis (p < .OOOl) showed private property in land and chattel to correlate with 21 variables falling into 3 clusters, interpretively labelled (1) the social ecology of agriculture, (2) social and material stratification, and (3) social security. Subject to the limitations of archived data and to the indeterminancy of correlational analysis, these findings support arguments that private property arose in agricultural society, but not theories that property is a patriarchal, antifemale institution. Speculations based on psychological literature suggest that private property empowers the defense of the self.
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