ventsel, aimar


Half of the Country Is My Relatives: Kinship Solidarity, Morality and Good Life in post-Socialist Kazakhstan

After the collapse of the Soviet state, kinship as a ‘shock absorber’ and resource monitoring institution has taken over many former state functions. Kazakh families are large strong networks that cover all country. Main driving force behind family networks is a practice of reciprocity and an obligation to help one’s relatives. These networks channel the distribution of resources and provide family members access to different spheres of economy, state apparatus and education, at the same time are these networks an embodiment of Kazakh moral values. Kazakh perception of good life does not only include economic prosperity but also following of a complex set of norms that define good behaviour. Good life in this sense means harmonious social relations within the family, good reputation, respect to elders, behaving according to Islamic values and mutual support.

In my paper I discuss the ideology and practices of these kinship networks to demonstrate how Kazakh moral values are embedded into functioning of private and state structures. “Good governance” of a state apparatus is strongly influenced of Kazakh social norms of reciprocity, loyalty, good behaviour and respect. These social norms are confirmed and recreated in civic and family rituals like Nauruz (Kazakh New Year celecration), weddings and other social gatherings. Participation in social events and “behaving well” makes one trustworthy and defines one’s social position in different social networks. At the same time, kinship networks and social events link state and private structures with each other to establish structures that follow Kazakh social and moral norms. This way, the “good life” is reproduced by combining economic practices with demonstration of morality with the purpose to strengthen economic well being of the kinship network.

Friday 26 October 09:00-11:00 Panels VII, Panel 19 Changing Values and the Idea of Democracy (Hall 8)