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Chapter 10 Kinship and Descent. Chapter Questions. Why is kinship so important in nonstate societies? Can you explain why hunters and gatherers have kinship classification systems similar to those of industrialized societies?

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Chapter 10 Kinship and Descent

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Chapter 10 kinship and descent l.jpg

Chapter 10Kinship and Descent


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Chapter Questions

  • Why is kinship so important in nonstate societies?

  • Can you explain why hunters and gatherers have kinship classification systems similar to those of industrialized societies?

  • What are some of the functions of different kinds of kinship systems?

  • How can people manipulate kinship rules to server their own interests?

  • In what ways to kinship terminologies reflect other aspects of a culture?


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Kinship & Descent

  • Kinship Defined

  • Consanguineal Relatives

  • Affinal Relative

  • Fictive Kinship

  • U.S. Importance of biological kinship

  • Socio cultural anthropology focus on kinship

  • Biologically based and culturally determined


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Functions of Kinship Systems

  • Vertical function - provides social continuity by binding together a number of successive generations.

  • Horizontal function - solidify or tie together a society across a single generation through marriage.


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Principles of Kinship Classification

  • Generation

  • Gender

  • Lineality Versus Collaterality

  • Consanguineal Versus Affinal Kin

  • Relative Age

  • Sex of the Connecting Relative

  • Social Condition

  • Side of the Family


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Descent Groups

  • Decent Rules

  • Characteristics:

    • Have a strong sense of identity.

    • Often share communally held property.

    • Provide economic assistance to one another.

    • Engage in mutual civic and religious ceremonies.


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Functions of Descent Groups

  • Mechanism for inheriting property and political office.

  • Control behavior.

  • Regulate marriages.

  • Structure primary political units.


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Rules of Descent: Two Types

  • Unilateral

    • Trace their ancestry through mother’s line or father’s line, but not both (60%).

  • Cognatic descent

    • Includes double descent, ambilineal descent, and bilateral descent.


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Patrilineal Descent

  • Most common unilineal descent group.

    • A man, his children, his brother’s children, and his son’s children are all members of the same descent group.

    • Females must marry outside their patrilineages.

    • A woman’s children belong to the husband’s lineage rather than her own.


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Matrilineal Descent Groups

  • A woman, her siblings, her children, her sisters’ children, and her daughters’ children.

  • 15% of the unilineal descent groups found among contemporary societies including:

    • Native Americans (such as Navajo,

      Cherokee, and Iroquois)

    • Truk and Trobrianders of the Pacific

    • Bemba, Ashanti, and Yao of Africa


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Corporate Nature ofUnilineal Descent Groups

  • Lineage members see themselves as members of the group rather than individuals.

  • Large numbers of family must approve of marriages.

  • Property is regulated by the group, rather than by the individual.

  • If a member of a lineage assaults a member of another lineage, the assaulter and the group are held accountable.

  • The kinship group provides security and protection for individual members.


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Cognatic Descent Groups

  • Approximately 40% of the world’s societies.

  • Three types:

    • Double descent

    • Ambilineal descent

    • Bilateral descent


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Kinship Classification Systems

  • Eskimo

  • Hawaiian

  • Iroquois

  • Omaha

  • Crow

  • Sudanese

    http://anthro.palomar.edu/kinship/kinship_4.htm


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Eskimo System

  • 1/10th of the world’s societies

  • Associated with bilateral descent.

  • Emphasizes the nuclear family by using separate terms (mother, father, sister, brother) that are not used outside the nuclear family. http://anthro.palomar.edu/kinship/kinship_5.htm


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Hawaiian System

  • Found in 1/3 of the societies in the world.

  • Uses a single term for all relatives of the same sex and generation:

    • A person’s father, father’s brother, and mother’s brother are all referred to as father.

    • In EGO’s generation, the only distinction is based on sex - male cousins are as brothers, female cousins as sisters.

  • Nuclear family members are roughly equivalent to more distant kin.


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Hawaiian System


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Iroquois System

  • EGO’s father and father’s brother are called by the same term, mother’s brother is called by a different term.

  • EGO’s mother and mother’s sister are called by one term, a different term is used for EGO’s father’s sister.

  • EGO’s siblings are given the same term as parallel cousins.


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Iroquois System


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Omaha System

  • Emphasizes patrilineal descent.

  • EGO’s father and father’s brother are called by the same term, and EGO’s mother and mother’s sister are called by the same term.

  • On the mother’s side of the family, there is a merging of generations.

  • That merging of generations does not occur on EGO’s father’s side of the family.


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Omaha System


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Crow System

  • Concentrates on matrilineal rather than patrilineal descent.

  • Mirror image of the Omaha system.

  • The father’s side of the family merges generations.

  • On EGO’s mother’s side of the family, which is the important descent group, generational distinctions are recognized.


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Crow System


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Sudanese System

  • Named after region in Africa where it is found.

  • Most descriptive system, makes the largest number of terminological distinctions.

  • Separate terms are used for mother’s brother, mother’s sister, father’s brother, and father’s sister as well as their male and female children.

  • Found in societies that have differences in wealth, occupation, and social status.


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Kinship Chart Activity

  • Using a blank sheet of paper construct your own kinship chart listing three generations (vertically) and maximum two generations (horizontally). Use color to identify closeness with relatives and explain the following:

    • Why is kinship so important for you? Describe whether you follow a unilineal-matrilineal or patrilineal or cognatic- bilateral or ambilineal & why.

    • What are some of the functions & reasons for different kinds of kinship relations?

    • How can people manipulate kinship rules to server their own interests?

    • In what ways do kinship relations reflect aspects of your culture or family processes?


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