Starting from scratch in a patrilocal society: how women build networks after marriage in rural Bangladesh

Daniel J. Hruschka, Shirajum Munira, Khaleda Jesmin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Humans rely on both kin and non-kin social ties for a wide range of support. In patrilocal societies that practice village exogamy, women can face the challenge of building new supportive networks when they move to their husband's village and leave many genetic kin behind. In this paper, we track how women from 10 diverse communities in rural Bangladesh build supportive networks after migrating to their husband's village, comparing their trajectories with women who remained in their childhood village (Bengali: n = 317, Santal: n = 36, Hajong: n = 39, Mandi: n = 36). Women who migrated for marriage started with almost no adult close kin (mean 0.1) compared to women who remained in their childhood village (mean 2.4). However, immigrants compensated for the lack of genetic kin by a combination of close affinal kin and close friends. By their late 20s, immigrants reported substantially more non-kin friends than did non-immigrants (mean 1.4 versus 1.1) and a comparable number of supportive partners in several domains. These findings raise questions about the functions and quality of these different social ties and how different composition of supportive networks may provide different opportunities for women in these settings. This article is part of the theme issue 'Cooperation among women: evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20210432
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1868
StatePublished - Jan 16 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Bangladesh
  • friendship
  • kinship
  • marriage
  • matrilocal
  • patrilocal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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