Janet Dolgin • Studied several examples of these ambiguities in contemporary court cases in the US, having to do with the paternal rights of parents who were not married, and with the maternal rights of surrogate mothers.
In the cases of children being born out of wedlock, biological maternity automatically turned a woman into a social mother, but biological paternity didn’t automatically make a man the social father.
Surrogacy • The cases show that when a surrogate mother impregnated with the sperm of the husband in the couple decided to keep the child, then the court decided that biological maternity wasn’t enough to be a mater.
Biological facts were called into play by the court only when they justified the preservation of traditional families, that is, nuclear, middle-class, North American two-parent family.
Zumbagua, Ecuador • According to Mary Weismantel, family consists of those who eat together. • Eventually, people will come to share “the same flesh”, no matter who gave birth to them.
Ascribed Statuses: Are social positions that are assigned at birth, and that are seen as immutable or unchangeable.
Achieved Statuses, on the other hand, are social positions that people attain later in life, as a result of theirs or someone else’s effort.
Bilateral Descent Group • An unusual kinship form consisting of a set of people who claim to be related through descent from a common ancestor, through both the mother’s and the father’s side • A corporate group.
Corporate Group • A group of people who have something in common and interact regularly, AND • who collectively share: rights to property or other resource, privileges, and liabilities.
Patrilineage • A unilineal descent group in which descent is traced through father-child links.
Matrilineage • A unilineal descent group in which descent is traced through mother-child links.
Lineages • Whether matrilineal or patrilineal, are formed by all the members of a descent group who believe they can trace descent from known ancestors.
In matrilineal societies • The most important social relationship is between brothers and sisters, because it is a man’s sister’s children who will perpetuate his lineage.
In patrilineal societies • The most important relationship is between father and child.
Bridewealth • The transfer of symbolically important goods from the family of the groom to the family of the bride on the occasion of their marriage. • This transfer compensates her lineage for the loss of her labour capacity and her ability to have children.
Dowry • The transfer of family wealth to the child, usually the woman, at the time of her marriage. • This ensures that the woman will enjoy the same lifestyle she had at home.
Order of Sharing • Operates on the principle that kinship is constructed through substance sharing, e.g.: • DNA • Blood • Food • Semen
Order of Ratification • Encompasses all the processes that legitimize relationships through social convention, e.g.: • Nuer transfer of bridewealth in the form of cattle. • Adoption of children. • Ties of marriage in North American society.
Kath Weston • Studied how difficult it is for gay and lesbian people to come out to their blood relatives, particularly because they are constantly afraid that their families will disown them.
Gay and lesbian families • New kin ties can be created over time as friends and lovers demonstrate their genuine commitment to one another by creating families of choice.
Gays and lesbians state that family members are people who are there for you, people you can count on emotionally and materially.
One of the ideologies dominant within gay and lesbian kinship relations is that “Whatever endures is real.”