Spheres of Inheritance in Aughnaboy1


  • 1

    A summary version of this paper was read at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in November 1968 in Seattle, Washington. The field research on which this article is based was carried out in Aughnaboy between October 1964 and November 1966. when I was in the Department of Social Anthropology at The Queen's University of Belfast, and between June and November of 1969, when I held a joint appointment between the Memorial University of Newfoundland's Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Institute of Social and Economic Research. I am indebted to both these institutions for generous assistance with research time and expenses and to Mr. Rex Clark, Dr. Robin Fox, Dr. Jean L a Fontaine, and Dr. Robert Paine for criticism of this paper.


This paper uses the concept of spheres to analyze the transmission of goods between the generations in Aughnaboy. It argues that a concept such as a sphere is necessary to unravel the complex patterns of inheritance in this rural sector of a complex Western industrial society, and it concludes that there are three spheres of inheritance; each sphere distinguished by the movement of different items through different modes of exchange, and each sphere characterized by a distinct ideology and a distinct pattern of flow.