Context Specificity of “Market Integration” among the Matrilineal Mosuo of Southwest China

Departmental News

Posted:  Mar 16, 2022 - 12:00pm

Dr. Siobhan Mattison recently published Context Specificity of “Market Integration” among the Matrilineal Mosuo of Southwest China in Anthropological Currents, along with former UNM Post Doctoral Fellows Dr. Darragh Hare and Dr. Chun-Yi Sum and current UNM graduate student Ruizhe Liu among the co-authors.  


Market integration (MI) is a complex process through which individuals integrate market-oriented activities into previously subsistence dominated lifeways. Changes associated with MI alter the landscapes of individual health and reproductive decision-making. While the consequences of MI are often easily detected in aggregate, the specific aspects of MI that affect health and demography are context dependent and underinvestigated. We argue that an evolutionary perspective can inform such investigations by emphasizing individuals’ responses to the opportunities and challenges presented by MI in their particular context. Among adult matrilineal Mosuo participants from six villages in southwest China who are experiencing rapid MI driven by ethnic tourism, we investigated relationships between multiple indicators of MI and three outcomes commonly associated with MI: waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, and age at first reproduction. Different MI indicators distributed across individual, household, and community levels of social organization predicted these outcomes. This suggests that commonly used simple metrics of MI can usefully be supplemented by additional context appropriate indicators of MI. Evolutionary theory and other frameworks that situate hypotheses of MI within specific social, cultural, and historical contexts will be most capable of identifying specific pathways through which multiple elements of MI affect different domains of reproductive and health behavior and outcomes.