Cultural cleft and godparentage

In this article, the most important hypotheses investigated in the project 'Cultural perspectives on the relations between farmers and government officials', which has been conducted at the Unversity College at Volda since 2008, are discussed. The analysis of relations of godparentage can be an immediate and manageable way to seek the answers to some of the main questions. The choice of godparents among farmers and officials can probably tell us also something about social contact. Comparison of the choice of godparents in two ten-year periods, from the middle of the 18th and 19th centuries respectively, in Hosanger parish in North Hordaland, shows clearly that there was closer social contact between farmers and officials in the first period. Random data from other areas suggest that this finding is not unique to Hosanger. This is only partly in keeping with our hypotheses. We had believed that the growth of literacy among the farmers, their more developed political roles, and the emerging culture of organisation, could have led to closer contact between them and the officials.

Otherwise, it would in general appear that the choice of godparents by farmers became more privatised, restricted to close neighbours and family. Among the officials, this would suggest stronger social distinction. Government officials were without doubt more concerned with their role as officials, but can obviously have had more contact with farmers in others areas of life than the purely private.