Honour, family and patronage: a study of institutions and moral values in a Greek mountain community

Clarendon PressOxford • Published In 1964 • Pages:

By: Campbell, John Kennedy.

This is a socio-functional study of the moral/social values of the Sarakatsani, a group of pastoral nomads living in the Epirus region of Greece, in relation to kinship institutions, family structure, patronage, prestige, and religious beliefs. It was hoped that through a study of this nature, parallels could be drawn throughout the Mediterranean area which would thus help to contribute to a study of the social structure of the entire region. The author begins his analysis with a study of the interaction of kinship institutions, and the structure of the family, showing how an individual's moral obligations are concentrated within the extended family and kindred groups in virtual exclusion of all non-kin, for as the author shows repeatedly throughout the text families not connected by kinship of marriage (i.e. affines) view one another with intense distrust. Associated with the above 'institutions' is a system of social values and attitudes based on concepts of honor, pride, and strength which together guide the conduct of the Sarakatsani in their communal life. Campbell points out that inevitably these institutions and values severely restrict the forms of economic and civic cooperation possible in the community as well as the basic character of the relation between the '… community of mutually opposed family commonwealths and the rest of Greek society.' Thus, the end result is the development of a system of social and political patronage. Among many points of substantive interest in this source is the author's meticulous description of the Sarakatsani kindreds and their function in the society, the concepts of honor and prestige and their relationship to social ideals, relations of the nomadic Sarakatsani and with the sedentary villagers of the area, the organization and function of the 'stani' or 'company,' a group of related families functioning as a body in the management of the sheep herds, and the interrelationship of moral/social values with religious beliefs and ideals. The author, a social anthropologist and research fellow of St. Anthony's College, Oxford, studied primarily one particular community of Sarakatsani in central Zagori to which he has given the fictitious name of Neochori and from which most of the material in this source was derived. Neighboring communities, however, were studied to some extent, and this information is incorporated into the report. It should be noted here that shortly after the author began his fieldwork, during the period of 1954-1955, feelings over the Cyprus issue were running high, and as a result the author's relations with the local authorities were always difficult. Campbell believes that without the support of the then deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Panayiotis Canellopoulos, he would not have been allowed to remain, and as it later turned out, within a week of the deputy Prime Minister's leaving office, he was asked to leave, thus bringing his fieldwork to an end.
Pastoral activities
Cooperative organization
Mode of marriage
Arranging a marriage
Kin relationships
Kindreds and ramages
HRAF PubDate
Sub Region
Southeastern Europe
Document Type
Creator Type
Social Anthropologist
Document Rating
5: Excellent Primary Data
John Beierle ; 1966
Coverage Date
Coverage Place
Sarakatsani, Zagori District, Epirus, Greece
by J. K. Campbell
Includes bibliographical references (p. 365) and index
Information pertinent to the Greeks of the Zagori region has been subheaded for the EH01 Greece file rather than EH12 Greek Regional Cultures, since there is already an OWC file on the former but none on the latter.