Class, Tribe, and Culture
This chapter pulls together findings about external demographic class disparities between the Bedouin and better-off peasant groups and internal demographic (dis)parities between different socioeconomic segments within Bedouin society. Detailed economic data on Bedouin livestock holdings, land, and machinery are provided in order to evaluate the economic basis of internal Bedouin differentiation and external differentiation between Bedouin and peasant groups. Demographic and economic data point to pronounced external disparities between Bedouin and peasants, with the latter having a clear social advantage in terms of economic well-being and health. Ethnographic observations similarly point to external class tensions and cultural distinctions between Bedouin and peasant peoples. However, within Bedouin society neither class tensions nor occupation-specific demographic differentials are discernable. Bedouin sharecroppers, pastoralists, and wage laborers have similar fertility and mortality outcomes. Given that biological factors better account for internal demographic variation and socioeconomic factors account for external demographic differences, the chapter concludes that demographic class stratification is subject to fluctuation in time and space.
Keywords: Class tensions, occupation, culture, tribe, Bedouin hospitality and generosity, livestock holdings, fertility, infant/child mortality differentials, biogenetic determinants of early mortality
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