Social Organization and Paternal Care
The social organization of human beings is one of the defining and special characteristic that distinguishes us from other primates with another major special defining character being our elaborate system of expressions through languages and use of symbolism. The two characteristics are thought of us being intimately connected with several experiments done to prove the same from an anthropological study point of view. Social organizations are formed amongst human beings through a system of definitive and logical ideas and usually end up giving pattern to the cultural practices, behaviour or beliefs.
One aspect of studies focusing on human social organization and offspring care is that of paternal involvement in childcare. Paternal care may be defined as behaviours performedby presumed/societalfathers or male figures, which appearto have underlying or direct effectson child development, physical growth and psychological well-being. From the definition above, paternal care, is significantly widespread among birds and fish ((Zimmer)). Contrastingly, mammals give minimal indications of paternal care and is only more frequent in carnivores, rodents, and primates. The ambiguity in the relation between these primates on implies that, neither socio-ecological nor purely phylogenetic hypotheses can describe the presence of paternal care or the inconsistency in the expression of paternal behaviours in this category of living species.
Evolution of paternal care based on male-female interactions has been the system of assessing the present nature of paternal involvement in childcare among researchers who have identified evidences of common psychological substrate for both pair-bonds and paternal character. Paternal care in a few primate species and some human societies has been characterised by rare but consistent traits such us providing protection from perceived enemies or predators, sharing food, grooming or cleaning, playing with off springs and teaching the infants survival tactics such as hunting and defending themselves. Despite major limitations such as internal fertilization, constraints during periods of pregnancy and lactation, some primate males display intense paternal care (Perini et al. 187).
Over the years, data on paternal care among primates have accumulated to extents where it is possible to provide a synthesis of its expression. Paternal care among primates, is widely varied (Fernandez-Duque et al. 110) with most male primates may occasionally interact with infants without giving clear indications of offering paternal care and according to studies by Buchan et al. (2003)and Charpentier et al. (2008) the presumed father interacts afflictively with infants only in very restrictive settings(Fernandez-Duque et al. 110-114). There are only few primates that exhibit somewhat meaningful and quantifiable aspects of paternal care and include the tamarins, titi monkeys, marmosets, owl monkeys, and some human societies. Most of the primates that exhibit paternal care are usually only distantly related and researchers have argued that paternal care may result from evolutionary paths that developed under different societal and natural environments. Admittedly among non-humans, nowhere is paternal care more clearly depicted than among monkeys. Monkeys mostly live in small groups of an adult pair and 2–4 young. In this groupings, roles are defined by gender where the females give birth to a single infant annually and the male acts as the primary carrier for the new-born. According to the studies by Fernandez-Duque dependent infants are carried by their putative fathers for longer periods of time with the mother only carrying the infant for brief periods usually surrounding active nursing sessions.
Among human societies, paternal care ranges from excessive indication to complete detachment and absence of the same. An example is the Ach´e communities of the Paraguayia forests hardly ever hold or interact with infants while those of the male Aka Pygmies are heavily involved in paternal care, spending relatively longer periods holding young infants (Perini et al. 190). Industrialization and technological advancement have also affected levels of expression of paternal care among the societies living in both ends of this settings. Ecological and societal perceptions also affect the levels of paternal care thus the household composition also directly affects the variability in fathering among humans. The variability in paternal care among human groupings with some men exhibiting high levels of paternal care while others show very little interest in their children only serves to show that paternal care is far from a universal trait (Hannerz). The disconnect in show of paternal care among human societies have resulted to anthropological fact finding missions with researchers such as Sarah Hrdy talking about the paradox of facultative fathering among humans.
There are two hypotheses attempting to explain the evolution of paternal care. The first hypothesis contends that paternal care evolved in response to the obligatory necessity of bi-parental care to rear offspring successfully (Fernandez-Duque et al.121). The hypothesis seems seeks to explain the evolution of allo-parental care in the callitrichids arguing that the mother is capable of taking care of the infant solely. The second hypothesis bases its argument on the affiliative relations between males and infants as a mating strategy by males which helps them establish a relationships with females and secure a position in their societal settings. The hypothesis serves to examine male-infant interactions particularly among primates where there exists no form of direct care.
Fernandez-Duque, Eduardo et al. “The Biology of Paternal Care in Human and Nonhuman Primates”. Annual Review of Anthropology, vol 38, no. 1, 2009, pp. 115-130. Annual Reviews, doi:10.1146/annurev-anthro-091908-164334.
Hannerz, Ulf. Cultural complexity: Studies in the social organization of meaning. Columbia University Press, 1992.
Perini, Tiziana et al. “Testosterone and Relationship Quality Across the Transition to Fatherhood”. Biological Psychology, vol. 90, no. 3, 2012, pp. 186-191. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.03.004.
Zimmer, Carl. “Monogamy and Human Evolution”. Nytimes.Com, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/02/science/monogamys-boost-to-human-evolution.html?hpw&_r=0&pagewanted=print.