This article presents some ethnographic notes on the economic organisation of poor households in urban Nicaragua. These highlight a number of atypical features that raise several important theoretical questions. In particular, they highlight the possible emergence of non-cooperative households, and point to a problematic association in the literature between doubly 'naturalised' notions of kinship and households. The article concludes that not only are neither households nor families inherently cooperative, but moreover they are not internally unified institutions. They are rather multifaceted in nature. In order to properly understand them they need to be conceived in terms of their internal institutional dynamics.
Journal of Development Studies (2007) 43 (3) 391-419 [DOI: 10.1080/00220380701204240]