Stack was interested in observing and describing how participants constitute and expand their network of exchange and how they themselves interpret this process. Stack, who was pregnant at the time, became part of the network of contacts, becoming known as “white Caroline,” and participated in child-keeping exchanges with her contacts after her child was born. Stack’s initial contacts were Viola and Leo Jackson and their kin, followed by Magnolia and Calvin Waters and their network. When Stack acquired a car, she was kept busy transporting members of the network to one another’s homes, as well as on a variety of other errands, as such constant movement on a daily basis is essential to the exchange system. When the car broke down, she decided not to fix it, as its constant use prevented her from spending long hours in individuals’ homes.
Stack observed that cooperative networks composed of kin who do not necessarily reside in a single household stood out as the normative pattern in the community. The basis of the network was exchange of goods and services among both male and female kin. Networks were composed of people who prove themselves trustworthy and thereby share reciprocal obligations toward one another. Stack’s subjects reported that the poorer one is, the more likely it is that one will repay the exchange, since degree of poverty is defined by reliance on the network and more affluent members with steady employment are likely to...
(The entire section is 1607 words.)
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