Becoming middle class: kinship, personhood, and social mobility in the central Philippines
Cruz, Resto I Sirios
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This thesis is an intimate portrait of kinship, personhood, and social mobility in the central Philippines. Through the story of a sibling set that came of age after the Second World War, their kin, and neighbours, it explores why and how upward mobility was aspired for, its consequences, and the ways in which such an achievement are recalled and narrated. The chapters examine the manifold and, at times, contradictory emotions that surrounded journeys of social mobility, whilst historicising the very selves and relations within which such narratives and emotions become embedded. Central to this account is siblingship, as viewed from later life, and in relation to filiation, the pursuit of personal autonomy through gendered educational and professional fields, and marriage and family formation. Although expectations of solidarity and life-long, and even transgenerational, support saturated ties of siblingship, conflicts between siblings were also deemed unsurprising, especially in adulthood, after marriage, and most especially, after the death of their parents. Whilst solidarity amongst siblings was seen as fundamental to achieving middle-classness, the pursuit of upward mobility in some cases heightened the potential for hierarchy, inequality, gendered differences, and enmity implied by siblingship, whilst mitigating and reversing it in others. Upward mobility had implications too for the succeeding generation, as conflicts and unequal life chances were passed on by parents to their children, sibling set sizes became smaller, and cousins became geographically distant from one another. Rooted in the anthropology of Southeast Asia and the Philippines, this thesis speaks to broader concerns about how kinship and personhood unfold and are transformed over time, how persons and their relations reflect, absorb, and refract broader societal shifts, and how seemingly ordinary, intimate, and private aspects of life have wider reverberations.