Time and social structure: an Ashanti case study

social structure: studies presented to a. r. radcliffe-brownLondon • Published In 1949 • Pages: 54-84

By: Fortes, Meyer.

This study of domestic groupings in the two rural Ashanti townships of Asokore and Agogo is particularly important because it defines for the first time the extremely complex residence patterns which underlie Ashanti household organization. The data were derived from the Ashanti Social Survey (Fortes 1947), and also from census records collected in the field by Miss P. Ady, a member of the Survey. Fortes indicates through statistical analysis of the composition of the Ashanti dwelling group that ...'Ashanti domestic organization is the result of the interaction of a number of fairly defined factors operating both at a given time and over a stretch of time.' These factors include the rule of matrilineal descent and the recognition of paternity, the sex of the household head, the tendency to seek a compromise between the ties of marriage and parenthood on the one hand and those of maternal kinship on the other, and the ideal that every mature person, especially a man, should have his own household. In addition to analyses of residence patterns and household composition, Fortes provides some information on interpersonal relationships, the relative ststus of males and females within the society, and Ashanti values and motivations as they apply to the dynamics of domestic groupings. The tables of statistical data indicate age, sex, kin relationships, marital status and number of children of household units examined in Asokore and Agogo, as well as age distribution of household heads in years (for both males and females), and the percentage of age group in the population who are household heads. Fortes was Professor of Social Anthropology at Cambridge University.
HRAF PubDate
Sub Region
Western Africa
Document Type
Mary L. Bartlett ; July 1953
Coverage Date
not specified
Coverage Place
Ashanti; Ghana; townships of Asokore and Agogo
Meyer Fortes
The author's discussion of his own and Radcliffe-Brown's concepts of social structure may be found on pp. 54-60.
Twi (African peoples)