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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.
anthropologists study the purpose/function of the people we live our lives with
How do cultures create kinship?
What are cross-cultural patterns of marriage and domestic life?
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.
Eskimo and Iroquois
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?
Bilineal Descent 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
Unilineal Descent (matrilocality/patrilocality)
Basis of kinship in 60% of the world’s cultures
Most associated with pastoralism, horticulture, and agricultural modes of production
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.
Through kin, people organized their households, allocated work roles, controlled land and other property in common, made decisions affecting the group and carried out ritual functions.
state+ specialists and state institutions took over may of the functions carried out by kinship groups.
In Nov, 2005 the NY Times published a story "Hello, I'm your sister. Our father is Donor 150.
donor sibling registry
$400/month in the late 1980s at CA cryobank
Valentine's Day surprise from Jeffrey Harrison
What is family?
Who is related to whom?
How do people decide these relationships?
Is Jeffrey their father or their common donor?
How is kinship defined in your family, in your country?
as a species we rarely live alone or in isolation.
Human life is social life.
List the last 5 numbers you texted/called. Categorize, then rank.
Kinship --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 is the system of meaning and power that cultures create to determine who is related to whom and to define their mutual expectations, rights and responsibilities.
How is kinship constructed?
Through kinship we see our lives as part of a continuum
What does it mean to be human?
Our meaning and for some our purpose; our hopes, dreams, emotions
What role does kin play in shaping who you are?
How are we related to one another?
genealogical descent-blood relatives --
long chain of relatives back to a common ancestor
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
How many relatives can you list?
2 types of descent groups:
1) clans: descent group based on a claim to a founding ancestor but lacking genealogical documentation
2) lineages: descent group that traces genealogical connection through generations by linking persons to a founding ancestor
unilineal: rule specifying that membership in a descent group is based on links on mother or fathers's sdie
ambilineal (chose which side), bilineal/cognatic
How do you track kin group membership>
exogamous: marriages within the group are not permitted
large clans were divided into lineages, (lineages were extensive enough to spread over several villages)
cattle -milked by women; brideprice/bridewealth
dowry (India) low status
patrilineal kinship structures of clans and lineages provided the primary structure for Nuer political and economic activity
lineages collectively owned land, fisheries and pastures
shared relationships based on
food as blood -(Malay villagers)--kinship is acquired through co-residence and co-eating
is organized around rules of marriage, rules of descent; rules of relatedness
How is kinship changing in the US?
what is the standard?
family of orientation
family of procreation
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)
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.
kinship organizes social and economic life
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: marriage
those based on birth: descent
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, farem
welfare system, pension, healthcare system
marriage, conflict, houses
community helped if too big for family
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.