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Transcript of Kinship
Each of us are born into a society who’s political, economic, and cultural practices are already well established when we arrived.
Human life is group life. In all societies, people have ways of organizing relationships with other people, especially their primary relationships with kin.
KINSHIP studies examine the deepest and most complicated aspects of our everyday life--pour our emotions, hopes, dreams--pain, love, joy, illness, funerals, births, rituals--lives as a continuum ---the past continues with the future
How do cultures create kinship?
What are cross-cultural patterns ?
The socially recognized ties that connect people in a variety of different ways.
shared links to a common ancestor
to understand social interaction, attitudes, and motivations in most societies
provides a means for transmitting legal status and property from generation to generation.
Kinship system -systems of culturally defined relationships between individuals who are commonly thought of has having family ties.
based on ideas of shared substance.
love, arranged, social obligation, exogamy (incest taboos), same sex, endogamy (caste)
kindred exogamy; class/race endogamy
polygyny, polyandry, monogamy
Gender is the cultural construction of beliefs and behaviors considered appropriate for each sex
Sex, gender, kinship
Anthropologists use the term sex to refer to the observable physical characteristics that distinguish the two kinds of human beings, females and males need for reproduction.
most important organizing principle in nonindustrial, non state cultures
providing for the basic needs of production, consumption and distribution
How do anthropologists study kinship?
construct a kinship diagram (use symbols to illustrate kinship relationships for "ego"
different from genealogy
Symbols for Individuals
is married to
Cross-cultural variety of kinship terminology can be reduced to six basic types.
ethnographic research: kinship terms are not universal
different terms apply to kin on one's mother's and father's sides
eg: Navajo (Mother)
Parallel cousins are ego's father's brother's children and mother's sister's children. In contrast, cross cousins are ego's father's sister's children and mother's brother's children. In other words, there is a crossing of gender in the parent generation with cross cousins but not with parallel ones. The gender of the cousin is not relevant in making this distinction.
•Kinship systems sometimes appear to be fairly rigid sets of rules that use the accident of birth to thrust people into social positions laden with rights and obligations they cannot escape.
Social positions that people are assigned at birth are called ascribed statuses
achieved statuses, those social positions that people may attain later in life, often as the result of their own or other people’s effort
All societies have ways of incorporating outsiders into their kinship groups, We will use the term adoption to refer to these practices which allow people to transform relationships based on nurturance into relations of kinship
•Anthropologists call culturally recognized relationships based on mating
and those based on birth
is ordinarily seen to be closely connected with mating and birth, it need not be and all societies have ways of acknowledging a relationship based on nurturance alone, which is called
• bilineal/bilateral descent—children are recognized as being related by descent to both parents
• Unilineal—recognizes descent through only one parent, either the father or the mother.
• When do you get one or the other?
is traced equally from both parents (neolocality)
Married couples live away from their parents
Inheritance is allocated equally between siblings
Dominant in foraging and industrial/informatics cultures
Basis of kinship in 60% of the world’s cultures
Most associated with pastoralism, horticulture, and agricultural modes of production
Nuer of Sourthern Sudan
In most societies, kinship relations permeate people's daily lives and mold their identity and their sense of themselves.
how to treat one another, how to act in groups
how to navigate differences of age, ethnicity, etc.
may perform important functions in the absence of formal institutions that regulate economic, political and religious life.
maintain social order
set moral rules
provide for basic needs
A kinship system consists of connections between people by "blood" (descent), marriage, or adoption, and the beliefs and practices by which people regard and treat one another as relatives.
related by marriage
fictive kin (
unrelated individuals who are regarded and treated as relatives)
Cousins by choice
Carol Stack (1974) Creating kin to survive poverty
kinship carries a sense of obligation and loyalty (family takes care of family)
kinship is a cultural construction-
-essentially a social and symbolic idea, not based on universal objective criteria
Among foragers, pastoralists, and horticulturalists, kinship relations were the primary regulators of social and economic life.
state+ specialists and state institutions took over many of the functions carried out by kinship groups.
In Nov, 2005 the
published a story
"Hello, I'm your sister. Our father is Donor 150"
Danielle of Seaford, NY
JoEllen of Russell, PN
donor sibling registry
$400/month in the late 1980s at CA cryobank
Valentine's Day surprise from Jeffrey Harrison of Venice, CA
Is Jeffrey their father or their common donor? What should be his role?
as a species we rarely live alone or in isolation.
: system of meaning and POWER that cultures create to determine who is related to whom and to define their mutual expectations, rights and responsibilities
not biological, but cultural
linked to mode of production and reproduction
as well as all other symbols and beliefs
affect personality development
influence marriage options
and how we care for the aged
political life for non industrialized society
sets social order-punishments
Human life is social life.
List the last 5 numbers you texted/called. Categorize, then rank.
the creation of relatives
is perhaps the most effective strategy humans have developed to form stable, reliable, separate, and deeply connected groups that can last over time and through generations
In industrial societies, friends, coworkers, colleagues, comembers of clubs and other nonrelatives also function significantly to give us companionship and support.
Kinship --social system that organizes people in families based on descent and marriage is patterned culturally
How is kinship constructed?
How are we related to one another?
Descent groups are central to the social structure of the nonindustrial cultures
Most European and N American cultures do not use descent to organize social groups
(Rockefeller, Kennedy)--still function together at times on common economic, social, political or ritual activities
How many relatives can you list?
2 types of descent groups:
descent group that traces genealogical connection through generations by linking persons to a founding ancestor
rule specifying that membership in a descent group is based on links on mother or father's side
ambilineal (chose which side)
descent group based on a claim to a founding ancestor but lacking genealogical documentation
he ancestor may be so far back in time that history becomes distorted so that the ancestor takes on heroic proportions.
Clans can be quite big, with a large number of people. (wolf, raven)
houses of Hogwarts
How do you track kin group membership?>
Holism of Nuer
Large clans were divided into lineages,
(lineages were extensive enough to spread over several villages)
: wealth paid by a groom or his family to the parents of the woman he has just married or is just about to marry.
cattle in exchange of bride
: property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage.
patrilineal kinship structures of clans and lineages provided the primary structure for Nuer political and economic activity
lineages collectively owned land, fisheries, and pastures
Ceremonial leadership, but did not control social networks built around kinship and cattle--not source of power
shared relationships based on
food as blood -(Malay villagers)--kinship is acquired through co-residence and co-eating
How is kinship changing in the US?
what is the standard?
detachable families are well adapted to a culture that prioritizes economic success, independence and mobility over geographic stability and generational continuity
nuclear family myth (white middle class)
not for colonists or immigrants
divorce at 50%
blended families rather than biology
medical technology is shaping biology
Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI
Surrogacy--lawful parent (egg or sperm)
Why study kinship? What is the purpose of kinship ?
In the West, Kinship groups are often assumed to have a biological basis and to arise around the nuclear family. "blood"
How does kinship organize social and economic life?
Descent groups help to define the pool of potential mates, (exomgamy, endogamy)
people who are obligated to help in economic and political issues,
dictate which religion is followed,
kin life is economic life
"I don't really know why, but I think there is something genetic that makes you feel like there is a bond with another person."
"So much of my family is non-biological but it's different with Jeffrey and the other siblings. I feel this very strong connection with them all and yet I haven't known them my entire life. But I do consider Jeffrey and my siblings to be very much part of my crazy 21st-century family.
anthropologists call culturally recognized relationships based on mating:
those based on birth:
systems of relatedness in different cultures will highlight some features and downplay others
in some cultures, births outside of legal marriage do not constitute valid links of descent
not all acts of nurturance are recognized as adoption
collapse of the family's purpose in industrial societies?
nuclear family (family business, farm)
welfare system, pension, healthcare system
One society may emphasize women as the bearers of children and base its kinship on this, playing little formal attention to the male's role in conception.
Week 6: Kinship, Social Organization, & Social Stratification
What is kinship and how is it structured in different societies?
How do families control power and wealth?
What is social stratification?
Deconstruct racial classification in the USA
The kinds of influence and control people can exert on their relatives vary widely from one society to another
cannot know values of a society until we know the core relationships of kinship, marriage and family
This story exposes key questions about our most important human relationships--what we sometimes call
and anthropologists explore under the umbrella of
what does this tell us about the values of our culture?
What is family?
Who is related to whom? Who decides?
Is kinship biological?
How is kinship defined in your family, in your country?
: family into which a person is born and (usually) raised
ideal vs. real vs. traditional (media)
Ozzie and Harriett (1952-1966)
not traditional but new pattern of independent American suburban family that emerged in 1950
77 million babies in 15 years
1930's (Great Depression)
1960 -70's (women working)
1980's (need 2 salaries)
only half of American households are headed by a married couple
nuclear family: most important family structure in the USA
Kin that are related to us through descent (parent to child) are called
or blood relatives.
links (degrees) between individuals.
Kin that are related through marriage are called
In the United States, we refer to affine as in-laws.
quickly sketch out relationships between people during the interview process
By Sg647112c (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Cultural recognition of children as kin of one or both parents is basis for the descent concept.
Some societies trace through both parents (e.g., Canada and the United States).
Other societies trace descent through only one of the parent’s family line.
There are two basic descent systems:
is also referred to as
non-unilineal descent a
nd there are two types:
arose in cultures where warfare is uncommon and there is a political organization that can organize and fight on behalf of the members.
In bilateral systems, children are equally descended through both parents.
People from both sides of the family are considered relatives.
systems require children to choose either the mother or father’s side of the family to be reckoned relatives.
Some Native American tribes use the ambilineal system.
In the illustration, if EGO chooses the father’s side of the family, then everyone marked in blue would be considered kin.
If EGO chooses the mother’s side, then everyone marked in orange would be considered family.
cultures only one family line is recognized as kin.
The group typically owns property together.
When family is reckoned along the father’s line the group is
along the mother’s line the group is
. Keep in mind that this is at the cultural level. Individuals in a culture may think of other people as kin even though they are not formally recognized by the culture itself.
Kinship / Review
“Cross-cultural comparisons of categories of kin terms (words used to identify relatives)reveal basic similarities and differences in worldview and experience” (Bonvillain 2010: 201).
What do terms reflect?
• paternal vs. maternal kin
• differences in relative age
• consanguine vs. affinal ties
• person’s descent line vs. linked
• sex of linking relative
The Hawaiian System.
This system is the simplest in that it has the fewest terms.
The key distinctions are generation and gender.
For example, all the males of the biological father’s generation are called father, while all the females are called mother.
common where nuclear families are dependent on other kin; the system emphasizes cohesion of the extended family. It is common among Pacific Island peoples.
The Eskimo System.
The nuclear family is emphasized in this system.
relatives outside of the nuclear family are distinguished by gender.
Terms like mother, father, sister, and brother not used for relatives outside of the nuclear family.
On the other hand, terms for aunt, uncle, cousin, grandfather and grandmother are used for both sides of family.
The Eskimo system is associated with societies where nuclear family is economically independent.
The Iroquois System.
The Iroquois system, found only in matrilineal societies, has different terms for maternal and paternal relatives based on sex and generation.
It makes distinctions between parental siblings of opposite sexes.
What this means is that any sisters the mother has are also called mother and any brothers of the father are called father.
However, brothers of the mother are called uncle and sisters of the father are called aunt.
Offspring of the mother’s sister or father’s brother are consider siblings, while children of the parents’ siblings of the opposite sex are called cousin.
cattle were center of economic life
men own cattle, but milked by women or boys not yet initiated into descent group