The Extended Family and Kinship Relations
The extended family and kinship relations, including
kinship, were also important. The role of the godparent,
example, had an importance in Portugal that it lacked in
United States. Being a godparent implied certain lifetime
obligations, such as helping a godchild in trouble,
admission to a school, finding employment, or furthering a
professional or political career. The godchild, in turn,
loyalty and service to the godparent. The system was one
patronage based on mutual obligation.
Political kinship networks could consist of several
persons. Such extended networks were especially prevalent
the elite. Members of the elite were bound not only by
and family, but by business partnerships, friendships,
ties, university or military academy bonds, and common
It was long the practice to have such family connections
government so as to be able to extract favors and
elite and middle-class families also tried to have a
real or ritual, in all political parties so that their
were protected no matter which party was in power.
parties or interest groups were just "fronts" for these
groupings. These extended families also tried to have
different sectors of the economy, both to enhance profits
enable each sector to support and reinforce the others.
these extended family networks were difficult for
penetrate, some observers regarded them as the country's
important political and economic institutions, of greater
consequence than political parties, interest
The poor and working class lacked the extended family
networks of the middle class and the wealthy. Kin
outside the nuclear family were weak. Little premium was
on building economic alliances through an extended family
because there was little wealth to be shared or gained.
Similarly, there was no reason to build strong political
connections because the poor lacked political power.
poor person might succeed in persuading a local landowner
village notable to serve as godfather to his children. In
way, the individual became part of a larger network,
favors in return for loyalty and service. If that network
wealthy or achieved political prominence, then the poor
attached to it might also expect to benefit--perhaps by
a low-level government job. But if it fell, the individual
fell. The entire Portuguese local and national system was
on these extended family and patronage ties, which were
important as formal institutions.
Data as of January 1993