Sociology Index

NEOLOCAL RESIDENCE

Matrilocal Residence, Patrilocal Residence

Neolocal Residence is part of the custom of a newly married couple setting up a new residence independent of the households of either partner's parents. Neolocal Residence is the residence pattern in which a married couple establishes a new residence independent of both their relatives.

Neolocal Residence is now common in North America and other industrialized nations in which the importance of kinship is minimized. Neolocal Residence and nuclear family domestic structures are found in societies where geographical mobility is important.

In Western societies, neolocal residence is consistent with the frequent moves necessitated by choices and changes within a supply and demand regulated labour market. Neolocal residence is also prevalent in hunting and gathering economies, where nomadic movements are intrinsic to the subsistence strategy.

G. P. Murdock says that monogamy, poverty, and the nuclear family are factors that can actually encourage a shift towards neolocal residence. Murdock also says that factors affecting the emergence of neolocal residence also affect the emergence of the nuclear family.

Bilateral nuclear families based on love marriages with neolocal residence are uniquely adapted to industrial societies. Married women in modern times show the preference for independent, neolocal residence. There is a distinct break with the family of origin, and married women rarely lived with either parents.

Neolocal Residence rules form the basis of most Western domestic structures. Upon marriage, each partner is expected to move out of his or her parents' household and establish a new residence, thus forming the core of an independent nuclear family.

The Emergence of Neolocal Residence. Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences 30:291-302. Reprinted in M. Ember and C. R. Ember, Marriage, Family, and Kinship, 1983.