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Chapter 10. Kinship and Descent. What We Will Learn. Why have cultural anthropologists spent so much time studying kinship? What are the various functions of descent groups? What are the different ways in which cultures categorize kin?
Chapter 10

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Chapter 10 l.jpgSlide 1

Chapter 10

Kinship and Descent

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What We Will Learn

  • Why have cultural anthropologists spent so much time studying kinship?

  • What are the various functions of descent groups?

  • What are the different ways in which cultures categorize kin?

  • Why is it important to know something about the kinship systems in other cultures?

Kinship defined l.jpgSlide 3

Kinship Defined

  • Kinship refers to the relationships—found in all societies—that are based on blood or marriage.

  • Relationships based on blood and marriage are culturally recognized by all societies.

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Kinship Defined

  • Those to whom we are related through birth or blood, are our consanguineal relatives.

  • Those to whom we are related through marriage are our affinal relatives.

  • Fictive kinship refers to relationships among individuals who recognize kinship obligations although the relationships are not based on either consanguineal or affinal ties.

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Kinship

  • Cultural anthropologists generally have studied societies in which kinship activities play an important role.

  • This Tibetan family includes three generations.

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Parenthood

  • Parenthood as defined by this Western family is very different from the Zumbaguan definition of parenthood.

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Question

  • ________ refers to relationships found in all societies.

    • Relatedness

    • Matrilineality

    • Patrilineality

    • Kinship

Answer d l.jpgSlide 8

Answer: d

  • Kinship refers to relationships found in all societies.

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Question

  • Those who are related to us by blood are referred to as:

    • affinal kin.

    • descendants.

    • ancestors.

    • consanguineal kin.

Answer d10 l.jpgSlide 10

Answer: d

  • Those who are related to us by blood are referred to as consanguineal kin.

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Partible Paternity

  • The Bari of Venezuela believe in partible paternity, the idea that a child can have more than one biological father.

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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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Kinship Diagrams

  • All kinship diagrams are viewed from the reference of EGO, the person from whose point of view we are tracing the relationship.

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Father’s sister (FZ)

Father’s sister’s husband (FZH)

Father’s brother’s wife (FBW)

Father’s brother (FB)

Father (F)

Mother (M)

Mother’s sister’s husband (MZH)

Mother’s sister (MZ)

Mother’s brother (MB)

Mother’s brother’s wife (MBW)

Father’s sister’s son (FZS)

Father’s sister’s daughter (FZD)

Father’s brother’s son (FBS)

Kinship Diagrams - References

Kinship diagram symbols l.jpgSlide 15

Kinship Diagram Symbols

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Generic Kinship Diagram

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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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Lineality Versus Collaterality

  • Lineality

    • Kin related in a single line such as son, father, and grandfather.

  • Collaterality

    • Kin relations traced through a linking relative.

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Descent Groups

  • Relatives who live their lives in close proximity to one another.

  • 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

  • In a patrilineal descent system, a person is connected to relatives of both sexes related through males only.

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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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Patrilineal Descent

  • This Kikuyu family of Kenya has a patrilineal descent system.

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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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Matrilineal Descent

  • In a matrilineal descent system, a person is connected to kin of both sexes related through females only.

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Matrilineal Descent

  • These Zuni of New Mexico practice matrilineal descent.

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Matriarchy

  • The rule of domination of women over men.

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Differences Between Patrilineal and Matrilineal Descent Groups

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Differences Between Patrilineal and Matrilineal Descent Groups

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Differences Between Patrilineal and Matrilineal Descent Groups

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Question

  • While matrilineal descent systems occur, it is important not to confuse them with _________________ , a situation whereby women have greater authority and decision-making prerogatives than men.

Answer matriarchy l.jpgSlide 33

Answer: matriarchy

  • While matrilineal descent systems occur, it is important not to confuse them with matriarchy, a situation whereby women have greater authority and decision-making prerogatives than men.

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Types of Unilineal Descent Groups

  • Lineages

  • Clans

  • Phratries

  • Moieties

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Lineage

  • Unilineal descent group whose members can trace their line of descent to a common ancestor.

  • Segmentation

    • The process that takes place within a lineage whereby small subdivisions of a lineage will oppose one another in some social situations but will coalesce and become allies in other social situations.

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Lineage Segmentation

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Clans

  • Unilineal descent groups, usually comprising more than ten generations, consisting of members who claim a common ancestry even though they cannot trace step-by-step their exact connection to a common ancestor.

    • Phratries

      • Unilineal descent groups composed of a number of related clans.

Moieties l.jpgSlide 38

Moieties

  • Complementary descent groups that result from the division of a society into two halves.

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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.

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Corporate Nature ofUnilineal Descent Groups

  • 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

  • A form of descent traced through both females and males.

  • Approximately 40% of the world’s societies.

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Types of Cognatic Descent

  • Double descent

    • Individuals receive some rights and obligations from the father’s side of the family and others from the mother’s side.

  • Ambilineal descent

    • Affiliates a person to a kin group through either the male or the female line.

  • Bilateral descent

    • Individuals equally emphasize their mother’s kin and their father’s kin.

World distribution of kinship systems l.jpgSlide 43

World Distribution of Kinship Systems

Kinship classification systems l.jpgSlide 44

Kinship Classification Systems

  • Eskimo

  • Hawaiian

  • Iroquois

  • Omaha

  • Crow

  • Sudanese

Eskimo system l.jpgSlide 45

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.

Eskimo kinship system l.jpgSlide 46

Eskimo Kinship System

Hawaiian system l.jpgSlide 47

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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Family History and Immigration

  • Immigrants are processed at Ellis Island in New York, the initial point of entry into the United States in the first half of the 20th century.

  • Information technology allows us to search immigration records to learn more about our family histories.

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Reproductive Technologies

  • New reproductive technologies are changing the way we think about kinship.


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