Kinship

Kinship

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Kinship is a relationship
Interpersonal relationship
An interpersonal relationship is an association between two or more people that may range from fleeting to enduring. This association may be based on limerence, love, solidarity, regular business interactions, or some other type of social commitment. Interpersonal relationships are formed in the...

 between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections.

In anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 the kinship system includes people related both by descent and marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

, while usage in biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 includes descent and mating
Mating
In biology, mating is the pairing of opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms for copulation. In social animals, it also includes the raising of their offspring. Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals for insemination and subsequent internal fertilization...

. Human kinship relations through marriage are commonly called "affinity" in contrast to "descent" (also called "consanguinity"), although the two may overlap in marriages among those of common descent. Family relations as sociocultural genealogy lead back to gods (see mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

, religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

), animals that were in the area or natural phenomena (as in origin stories).

Kinship is one of the most basic principles for organizing individuals into social groups, roles, categories, and genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

. Family relations can be represented concretely (mother, brother, grandfather) or abstractly after degrees of relationship. A relationship may have relative purchase (e.g., father is one regarding a child), or reflect an absolute (e.g., status difference between a mother and a childless woman). Degrees of relationship are not identical to heirship
Inheritance
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

 or legal succession. Many codes of ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 consider the bond of kinship as creating obligations between the related persons stronger than those between strangers, as in Confucian filial piety
Filial piety
In Confucian ideals, filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. The Confucian classic Xiao Jing or Classic of Xiào, thought to be written around 470 BCE, has historically been the authoritative source on the Confucian tenet of xiào /...

.

History of kinship studies


One of the founders of the anthropological relationship research was Lewis Henry Morgan, in his Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family (1871). Members of a society may use kinship terms without all being biologically related, a fact already evident in Morgan's use of the term affinity within his concept of the "system of kinship". The most lasting of Morgan's contributions was his discovery of the difference between descriptive and classificatory kinship
Classificatory kinship
Classificatory kinship systems, as defined by Lewis Henry Morgan, put people into society-wide kinship classes on the basis of abstract relationship rules. These may have to do with genealogical relations locally but the classes bear no overall relation to genetic closeness...

, which situates broad kinship classes on the basis of imputing abstract social patterns of relationships having little or no overall relation to genetic closeness but do reflect cognition about kinship, social distinctions as they affect linguistic usages in kinship terminology
Kinship terminology
Kinship terminology refers to the various systems used in languages to refer to the persons to whom an individual is related through kinship. Different societies classify kinship relations differently and therefore use different systems of kinship terminology - for example some languages...

, and strongly relate, if only by approximation, to patterns of marriage. The major patterns of kinship systems which Lewis Henry Morgan identified through kinship terminology in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family are:
  • Iroquois kinship
    Iroquois kinship
    Iroquois kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Iroquois system is one of the six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:The system has both classificatory and...

     (also known as "bifurcate merging")
  • Crow kinship
    Crow kinship
    Crow kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Crow system is one of the six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:The system is somewhat similar to the Iroquois system, but...

     (an expansion of bifurcate merging)
  • Omaha kinship
    Omaha kinship
    Omaha kinship is the system of terms and relationships used to define family in Omaha tribal culture. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Omaha system is one of the six major kinship systems which he identified...

     (also an expansion of bifurcate merging)
  • Dravidian kinship (the classical type of classificatory kinship
    Classificatory kinship
    Classificatory kinship systems, as defined by Lewis Henry Morgan, put people into society-wide kinship classes on the basis of abstract relationship rules. These may have to do with genealogical relations locally but the classes bear no overall relation to genetic closeness...

    , with bifurcate merging but totally distinct from Iroquois). Most Australian Aboriginal kinship
    Australian Aboriginal kinship
    Australian Aboriginal kinship is the system of law governing social interaction, particularly marriage, in traditional Australian Aboriginal culture...

     is also classificatory.
  • Eskimo kinship
    Eskimo kinship
    Eskimo kinship is a concept of kinship used to define family in anthropology. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Eskimo system was one of six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:The Eskimo system places no...

     (also referred to as "lineal kinship")
  • Hawaiian kinship
    Hawaiian kinship
    Hawaiian kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Louis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Hawaiian system is one of the six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:Within common typologies, the...

     (also referred to as the "generational system")
  • Sudanese kinship
    Sudanese kinship
    Sudanese kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Sudanese system is one of the six major kinship systems .The Sudanese kinship system is the most complicated...

     (also referred to as the "descriptive system").


The six types (Crow, Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Omaha, Sudanese) that are not fully classificatory (Dravidian, Australian) are those identified by Murdock (1949) prior to Lounsbury's (1964) rediscovery of the linguistic principles of classificatory kin terms.

"Kinship system" as systemic pattern


The concept of “system of kinship” tended to dominate anthropological studies of kinship in the early 20th century. Kinship systems as defined in anthropological texts and ethnographies were seen as constituted by patterns of behavior and attitudes in relation to the differences in terminology, listed above, for referring to relationships as well as for addressing others. Many anthropologists went so far as to see, in these patterns of kinship, strong relations between kinship categories
Kinship terminology
Kinship terminology refers to the various systems used in languages to refer to the persons to whom an individual is related through kinship. Different societies classify kinship relations differently and therefore use different systems of kinship terminology - for example some languages...

 and patterns of marriage, including forms of marriage, restrictions on marriage, and cultural concepts of the boundaries of incest
Incest
Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

. A great deal of inference was necessarily involved in such constructions as to “systems” of kinship, and attempts to construct systemic patterns and reconstruct kinship evolutionary histories on these bases were largely invalidated in later work. However, anthropologist Dwight Read later argued that the way in which kinship categories are defined by individual researchers are substantially inconsistent. This occurs when working within a systemic cultural model that can be elicited in fieldwork, but also allowing considerable individual variability in details, such as when they are recorded through relative products.

Conflicting theories of the mid 20th century


In trying to resolve the problems of dubious inferences about kinship "systems", George P. Murdock (1949, Social Structure) compiled kinship data to test a theory about universals in human kinship in the way that terminologies were influenced by the behavioral similarities or social differences among pairs of kin, proceeding on the view that the psychological ordering of kinship systems radiates out from ego and the nuclear family
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

 to different forms of extended family
Extended family
The term extended family has several distinct meanings. In modern Western cultures dominated by nuclear family constructs, it has come to be used generically to refer to grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, whether they live together within the same household or not. However, it may also refer...

. Lévi-Strauss (1949, Les Structures Elementaires), on the other hand, also looked for global patterns to kinship, but viewed the “elementary” forms
Alliance theory
The Alliance Theory is the name given to the structural method of studying kinship relations. It finds its origins in Claude Lévi-Strauss's Elementary Structures of Kinship , and is opposed to the functionalist theory of Radcliffe-Brown...

 of kinship as lying in the ways that families were connected by marriage in different fundamental forms resembling those of modes of exchange
Social exchange theory
Social exchange theory is a social psychological and sociological perspective that explains social change and stability as a process of negotiated exchanges between parties. Social exchange theory posits that all human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and...

: symmetric and direct, reciprocal delay, or generalized exchange.

Kinship networks and social process


A more flexible view of kinship was formulated in British social anthropology
Social anthropology
Social Anthropology is one of the four or five branches of anthropology that studies how contemporary human beings behave in social groups. Practitioners of social anthropology investigate, often through long-term, intensive field studies , the social organization of a particular person: customs,...

. Among the attempts to break out of universalizing assumptions and theories about kinship, Radcliffe-Brown (1922, The Andaman Islands
Andaman Islands
The Andaman Islands are a group of Indian Ocean archipelagic islands in the Bay of Bengal between India to the west, and Burma , to the north and east...

; 1930, The social organization of Australian tribes) was the first to assert that kinship relations are best thought of as concrete networks of relationships among individuals. He then described these relationships, however, as typified by interlocking interpersonal roles. Malinowski
Malinowski
Malinowski is a Polish surname. It may refer to the following:People:*Bronisław Malinowski , a Polish anthropologist.*Bronisław Malinowski , a Polish athlete.*Donald Malinowski , a Catholic priest and politician....

 (1922, Argonauts of the Western Pacific) described patterns of events with concrete individuals as participants stressing the relative stability of institutions and communities, but without insisting on abstract systems or models of kinship. Gluckman (1955, The judicial process among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia) balanced the emphasis on stability of institutions against processes of change and conflict, inferred through detailed analysis of instances of social interaction to infer rules and assumptions. John Barnes, Victor Turner
Victor Turner
Victor Witter Turner was a British cultural anthropologist best known for his work on symbols, rituals and rites of passage...

, and others, affiliated with Gluckman’s Manchester school of anthropology, described patterns of actual network relations in communities and fluid situations in urban or migratory context, as with the work of J. Clyde Mitchell
J. Clyde Mitchell
James Clyde Mitchell was a British sociologist and anthropologist....

 (1965, Social Networks in Urban Situations). Yet, all these approaches clung to a view of stable functionalism
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

, with kinship as one of the central stable institutions.

Recognition of fluidity in kinship meanings and relations


Building on Lévi-Strauss’s (1949) notions of kinship as caught up with the fluid languages of exchange, Edmund Leach
Edmund Leach
Sir Edmund Ronald Leach was a British social anthropologist of whom it has been said:"It is no exaggeration to say that in sheer versatility, originality, and range of writing he was and still is difficult to match among the anthropologists of the English speaking world".-Personal and academic...

 (1961, Pul Eliya) argued that kinship was a flexible idiom that had something of the grammar of a language, both in the uses of terms for kin but also in the fluidities of language, meaning, and networks. His field studies criticized the ideas of structural-functional stability of kinship groups as corporations with charters that lasted long beyond the lifetimes of individuals, which had been the orthodoxy of British Social Anthropology. This sparked debates over whether kinship could be resolved into specific organized sets of rules and components of meaning, or whether kinship meanings were more fluid, symbolic, and independent of grounding in supposedly determinate relations among individuals or groups, such as those of descent or prescriptions for marriage. Work on symbolic kinship by David M. Schneider
David M. Schneider
David Murray Schneider was an American cultural anthropologist, best known for his studies of kinship and as a major proponent of the symbolic anthropology approach to cultural anthropology. He received his B.S. in 1940 and his M.S. from Cornell University in 1941...

 in his (1984, A Critique of The Study of Kinship) reinforced this view. In response to Schneider's 1984 work on Symbolic Kinship, Janet Carsten re-developed the idea of "relatedness" from her initial ideas, looking at what was socialized and biological, from her studies with the Malays (1995, The substance of kinship and the heat of the hearth; feeding, personhood and relatedness among the Malays in Pulau Langkawi, American Ethnologist). She uses the idea of relatedness to move away from a pre-constructed analytic opposition which exists in anthropological thought between the biological and the social. Carsten argued that relatedness should be described in terms of indigenous statements and practices, some of which fall outside what anthropologists have conventionally understood as kinship (Cultures of Relatedness, 2000). This kind of approach – recognizing relatedness in its concrete and variable cultural forms – exemplifies the ways that anthropologists have grappled with the fundamental importance of kinship in human society without imprisoning the fluidity in behavior, beliefs, and meanings in assumptions about fixed patterns and systems.

Biological relationships


Ideas about kinship do not necessarily assume any biological relationship between individuals,
rather just close associations. Malinowski, in his ethnographic
Ethnography
Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

 study of sexual behaviour
Human sexual behavior
Human sexual activities or human sexual practices or human sexual behavior refers to the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts from time to time, and for a wide variety of reasons...

 on the Trobriand Islands
Trobriand Islands
The Trobriand Islands are a 450 km² archipelago of coral atolls off the eastern coast of New Guinea. They are situated in Milne Bay Province in Papua New Guinea. Most of the population of 12,000 indigenous inhabitants live on the main island of Kiriwina, which is also the location of the...

 noted that the Trobrianders did not believe pregnancy to be the result of sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 between the man and the woman, and they denied that there was any physiological relationship between father and child. Nevertheless, while paternity was unknown in the "full biological sense", for a woman to have a child without having a husband was considered socially undesirable. Fatherhood was therefore recognised as a social role; the woman's husband is the "man whose role and duty it is to take the child in his arms and to help her in nursing and bringing it up"; "Thus, though the natives are ignorant of any physiological need for a male in the constitution of the family, they regard him as indispensable socially".

As social and biological concepts of parenthood are not necessarily coterminous, the terms "pater" and "genitor" have been used in anthropology to distinguish between the man who is socially recognised as father (pater) and the man who is believed to be the physiological parent (genitor); similarly the terms "mater" and "genitrix" have been used to distinguish between the woman socially recognised as mother (mater) and the woman believed to be the physiological parent (genitrix). Such a distinction is useful when the individual who is considered the legal parent of the child is not the individual who is believed to be the child's biological parent. For example, in his ethnography of the Nuer, Evans-Pritchard
E. E. Evans-Pritchard
Sir Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard was an English anthropologist who was instrumental in the development of social anthropology...

 notes that if a widow
Widow
A widow is a woman whose spouse has died, while a widower is a man whose spouse has died. The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood or occasionally viduity. The adjective form is widowed...

, following the death of her husband, chooses to live with a lover outside of her deceased husband's kin group, that lover is only considered genitor of any subsequent children the widow has, and her deceased husband continues to be considered the pater. As a result, the lover has no legal control over the children, who may be taken away from him by the kin of the pater when they choose. The terms "pater" and "genitor" have also been used to help describe the relationship between children and their parents in the context of divorce in Britain. Following the divorce and remarriage of their parents, children find themselves using the term "mother" or "father" in relation to more than one individual, and the pater or mater who is legally responsible for the child's care, and whose family name
Family name
A family name is a type of surname and part of a person's name indicating the family to which the person belongs. The use of family names is widespread in cultures around the world...

 the child uses, may not be the genitor or genitrix of the child, with whom a separate parent-child relationship may be maintained through arrangements such as visitation rights
Contact (law)
In family law, contact is one of the general terms which denotes the level of contact a parent or other significant person in a child's life can have with that child...

 or joint custody
Joint custody
Joint custody is a court order whereby custody of a child is awarded to both parties. In joint custody both parents are custodial parents and neither parent is a non-custodial parent, or, in other words, the child has two custodial parents. In the United States, many states recognize two forms of...

.

It is important to note that the terms "genitor" or "genetrix" do not necessarily imply actual biological relationships based on consanguinity
Consanguinity
Consanguinity refers to the property of being from the same kinship as another person. In that respect, consanguinity is the quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person...

, but rather refer to the socially held belief that the individual is physically related to the child, derived from culturally held ideas about how biology works. So, for example, the Ifugao may believe that an illegitimate child might have more than one physical father, and so nominate more than one genitor. J.A. Barnes therefore argued that it was necessary to make a further distinction between genitor and genitrix (the supposed biological mother and father of the child), and the actual genetic
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 father and mother of the child.

Descent and the family


Descent, like family systems, is one of the major concepts of anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

. Cultures worldwide possess a wide range of systems of tracing kinship and descent. Anthropologists break these down into simple concepts about what is thought to be common among many different cultures.

Descent groups


A descent group is a social group
Group (sociology)
In the social sciences a social group can be defined as two or more humans who interact with one another, share similar characteristics and collectively have a sense of unity...

 whose members claim
common ancestry. A unilineal society is one in which the descent of an individual is reckoned either from the mother's or the father's line of descent. With matrilineal descent
Matrilineality
Matrilineality is a system in which descent is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors. Matrilineality is also a societal system in which one belongs to one's matriline or mother's lineage, which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles.A matriline is a line of descent from a...

 individuals belong to their mother's descent group. Matrilineal descent includes the mother's brother, who in some societies may pass along inheritance to the sister's children or succession to a sister's son. With patrilineal descent
Patrilineality
Patrilineality is a system in which one belongs to one's father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, names or titles through the male line as well....

, individuals belong to their father's descent group. Societies with the Iroquois kinship
Iroquois kinship
Iroquois kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Iroquois system is one of the six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:The system has both classificatory and...

 system, are typically uniliineal, while the Iroquois proper are specifically matrilineal.

In a society which reckons descent bilaterally (bilineal), descent is reckoned through both father and mother, without unilineal descent groups. Societies with the Eskimo kinship
Eskimo kinship
Eskimo kinship is a concept of kinship used to define family in anthropology. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Eskimo system was one of six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:The Eskimo system places no...

 system, like the Eskimo proper, are typically bilateral. The egocentrid kindred
Kindred
In the Heathen movements, a kindred is a local worship group and organisational unit. Other terms used are hearth, theod , blotgroup, sippe, and other less popular ones such as garth, stead, and others....

 group is also typical of bilateral societies.

Some societies reckon descent patrilineally for some purposes, and matrilineally for others. This arrangement is sometimes called double descent. For instance, certain property and titles may be inherited through the male line, and others through the female line.

Societies can also consider descent to be ambilineal (such as Hawaiian kinship
Hawaiian kinship
Hawaiian kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Louis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Hawaiian system is one of the six major kinship systems .-Kinship system:Within common typologies, the...

) where offspring determine their lineage through the matrilineal line
Matrilineality
Matrilineality is a system in which descent is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors. Matrilineality is also a societal system in which one belongs to one's matriline or mother's lineage, which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles.A matriline is a line of descent from a...

 or the patrilineal line
Patrilineality
Patrilineality is a system in which one belongs to one's father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, names or titles through the male line as well....

.

Lineages, clans, phratries, moieties, and matrimonial sides


A lineage is a descent group that can demonstrate their common descent from a known apical ancestor
Most recent common ancestor
In genetics, the most recent common ancestor of any set of organisms is the most recent individual from which all organisms in the group are directly descended...

. Unilineal lineages can be matrilineal or patrilineal, depending on whether they are traced through mothers or fathers, respectively. Whether matrilineal or patrilineal descent is considered most significant differs from culture to culture.

A clan
Clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

 is a descent group that claims common descent from an apical ancestor (but often cannot demonstrate it, or "stipulated descent"). If a clan's apical ancestor is nonhuman, it is called a totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

. Examples of clans are found in the Chechen
Teip
Teip is a Chechen and Ingush tribal organization or clan, self-identified through descent from a common ancestor and geographic location. There are about 130-233 teips...

, Chinese
Consort clan
The consort clan is the family, clan of or group related to an empress dowager or a spouse of a Chinese dynastic ruler or a warlord. The leading figure of the clan was either a sibling, cousin, or parent of the empress or consort.- Han Dynasty :...

, Irish
Irish clans
Irish clans are traditional kinship groups sharing a common surname and heritage and existing in a lineage based society prior to the 17th century.-History:...

, Japanese
Japanese clans
This is a list of Japanese clans. The ancient clans mentioned in the Nihonshoki and Kojiki lost their political power before the Heian period. Instead of gozoku, new aristocracies, Kuge families emerged in the period...

, Polish
Polish clans
Polish clans differ from most clan systems in that while they are mostly composed of families sharing male-line origin there can also be some genealogically unrelated families bearing the same coat of arms and clan name because of a formal adoption upon ennoblement or sometimes because of a...

, Scottish
Scottish clan
Scottish clans , give a sense of identity and shared descent to people in Scotland and to their relations throughout the world, with a formal structure of Clan Chiefs recognised by the court of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms which acts as an authority concerning matters of heraldry and Coat of Arms...

, Tlingit, and Somali
Somali clan
The demographics of Somalia describes the condition and overview of Somalia's inhabitants. Demographic topics include basic education, health and population statistics, as well as identified racial and religious affiliations.-Somalis:...

 societies. In the case of the Polish clan, any notion of common ancestry was lost long ago.

A phratry
Phratry
In ancient Greece, a phratry ατρία, "brotherhood", "kinfolk", derived from φρατήρ meaning "brother") was a social division of the Greek tribe...

 is a descent group containing at least two clans which have a supposed common ancestor.

If a society is divided into exactly two descent groups, each is called a moiety, after the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 word for half. If the two halves are each obliged to marry out, and into the other, these are called matrimonial moieties.
Houseman and White (1998b, bibliography) have discovered numerous societies where kinship network analysis shows that two halves marry one another, similar to matrimonial moieties, except that the two halves—which they call matrimonial sides – are neither named nor descent groups, although the egocentric kinship terms may be consistent with the pattern of sidedness, whereas the sidedness is culturally evident but imperfect.

The word deme is used to describe an endogamous local population that does not have unilineal descent. Thus, a deme is a local endogamous community without internal segmentation into clans.

Nuclear family


The Western model of a nuclear family
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

 consists of a couple and its children. The nuclear family is ego-centered and impermanent, while descent groups are permanent (lasting beyond the lifespans of individual constituents) and reckoned according to a single ancestor.

Kinship calculation is any systemic method for reckoning kin relations. Kinship terminologies are native taxonomies, not developed by anthropologists.

Beanpole family is a term used to describe expansions of the number of living generation
Generation
Generation , also known as procreation in biological sciences, is the act of producing offspring....

s within a family unit, but each generation has relatively few members in it.

Legal ramifications


Kinship and descent have a number of legal
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 ramifications, which vary widely between legal and social structures.

Next of Kin traditionally and in common usage refers to the person closest related to you by blood, such as a parent or your children.

In legal terms, for example in intestacy, it has come to mean the person closest to you, which is generally the spouse if married, followed by the natural children of the deceased.

Whilst someone is alive they may nominate any person close to them to be their next of kin
Next of kin
Next of kin is a term with many interpretations depending on the jurisdiction being referred to. In some jurisdictions, such as the United States, it is used to describe a person's closest living blood relative or relatives...

. The next of kin is usually asked for as a contact in case of accident, emergency or sudden death. It does not involve completing any forms or registration in the UK, and may be a friend or carer unrelated to you by blood or marriage.

Most human groups share a taboo
Incest taboo
An Incest taboo is any cultural rule or norm that prohibits practices of sexual relations between relatives. All human cultures have norms regarding who is considered suitable and unsuitable sexual and/or marriage partners, and usually certain close relatives are excluded as possible partners...

 against incest
Incest
Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

; relatives are forbidden from marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 but the rules tend to vary widely when one moves beyond the nuclear family
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

. At common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

, the prohibitions are typically phrased in terms of "degrees of consanguinity
Consanguinity
Consanguinity refers to the property of being from the same kinship as another person. In that respect, consanguinity is the quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person...

."

More importantly, kinship and descent enters the legal system by virtue of intestacy
Intestacy
Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies owning property greater than the sum of their enforceable debts and funeral expenses without having made a valid will or other binding declaration; alternatively where such a will or declaration has been made, but only applies to part of...

, the laws that at common law determine who inherits the estates of the dead in the absence of a will
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

. In civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 countries, the doctrine of legitime
Legitime
In Civil law and Roman law, the legitime , or forced share, of a decedent's estate is that portion of the estate from which he cannot disinherit his children, or his parents, without sufficient legal cause...

 plays a similar role, and makes the lineal descendants of the dead person forced heirs. Rules of kinship and descent have important public aspects, especially under monarchies
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

, where they determine the order of succession
Order of succession
An order of succession is a formula or algorithm that determines who inherits an office upon the death, resignation, or removal of its current occupant.-Monarchies and nobility:...

, the heir apparent
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

 and the heir presumptive
Heir Presumptive
An heir presumptive or heiress presumptive is the person provisionally scheduled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honour, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir or heiress apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the position in question...

.

Evolutionary approaches


Sociobiology
Sociobiology
Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context. Often considered a branch of biology and sociology, it also draws from ethology, anthropology,...

 and evolutionary psychology
Evolutionary psychology
Evolutionary psychology is an approach in the social and natural sciences that examines psychological traits such as memory, perception, and language from a modern evolutionary perspective. It seeks to identify which human psychological traits are evolved adaptations, that is, the functional...

 have approached human kinship with the assumption that inclusive fitness
Inclusive fitness
In evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, the inclusive fitness of an organism is the sum of its classical fitness and the number of equivalents of its own offspring it can add to the population by supporting others...

 and kin selection
Kin selection
Kin selection refers to apparent strategies in evolution that favor the reproductive success of an organism's relatives, even at a cost to the organism's own survival and reproduction. Charles Darwin was the first to discuss the concept of group/kin selection...

 theory predict that kinship relations in humans are indeed expected to depend on genetic relatedness.

This position provoked criticism from ethnographers including notably, Marshall Sahlins
Marshall Sahlins
Marshall David Sahlins is a prominent American anthropologist. He received both a Bachelors and Masters degree at the University of Michigan where he studied with Leslie White, and earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1954 where his main intellectual influences included Karl Polanyi and...

 who criticized the approach through reviews of ethnographies in his 1976 The Use and Abuse of Biology. Such counter evidence and critiques by detractors did not dissuade the program, and fundamental and heated disagreements between the two sides continued. One of the key figures in sociobiology
Sociobiology
Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context. Often considered a branch of biology and sociology, it also draws from ethology, anthropology,...

, E.O. Wilson, famously had a pitcher of water poured over his head at an AAAS
AAAS
AAAS may refer to:* American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an organization dedicated to scholarship and the advancement of learning* American Association for the Advancement of Science, an organization that promotes cooperation between scientists...

 meeting in 1978. These early disagreements over the nature of human kinship and cooperative behaviour have formed an important core of the continuing controversies related to evolutionary psychology and sociobiology
Evolutionary psychology controversy
From its beginning, evolutionary psychology has generated substantial controversy and criticism. Criticisms include 1) disputes about the testability of evolutionary hypotheses, 2) alternatives to some of the cognitive assumptions frequently employed in evolutionary psychology, 3) vagueness...

 ever since.

Evolutionary psychologists currently do not argue that humans automatically know the genetic relationships between people or that culture does not affect how kinship is perceived. One current view is that humans have an inborn but culturally affected system for detecting certain forms of genetic relatedness. One important factor for sibling
Sibling
Siblings are people who share at least one parent. A male sibling is called a brother; and a female sibling is called a sister. In most societies throughout the world, siblings usually grow up together and spend a good deal of their childhood socializing with one another...

 detection, especially relevant for older siblings, is that if an infant and one's mother are seen to care for the infant, then the infant and oneself are assumed to be related. Another factor, especially important for younger siblings who cannot use the first method, is that persons who grew up together see one another as related. Yet another may be detection based on the major histocompatibility complex
Major histocompatibility complex
Major histocompatibility complex is a cell surface molecule encoded by a large gene family in all vertebrates. MHC molecules mediate interactions of leukocytes, also called white blood cells , which are immune cells, with other leukocytes or body cells...

 (See Major Histocompatibility Complex and Sexual Selection
Major Histocompatibility Complex and Sexual Selection
A pathogen is any agent that causes disease. The body has two defense mechanisms for dealing with pathogenic microorganisms and other harmful substances: the inflammatory reaction and the development of an acquired immunity...

). This kinship detection system in turn affects other genetic predispositions such as the incest taboo
Incest taboo
An Incest taboo is any cultural rule or norm that prohibits practices of sexual relations between relatives. All human cultures have norms regarding who is considered suitable and unsuitable sexual and/or marriage partners, and usually certain close relatives are excluded as possible partners...

 and a tendency for altruism
Altruism
Altruism is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of 'others' toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of...

 towards relatives.

Holland in a 2004 thesis argued that some approaches in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology have repeated earlier anthropological mistakes regarding putting too much emphasis on genetic relatedness regarding kinship. For example, inclusive fitness
Inclusive fitness
In evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, the inclusive fitness of an organism is the sum of its classical fitness and the number of equivalents of its own offspring it can add to the population by supporting others...

 theory does not require that genetic relatedness must be detected by individuals. In the ancestral environment, human bonding
Human bonding
Human bonding is the process of development of a close, interpersonal relationship. It most commonly takes place between family members or friends, but can also develop among groups such as sporting teams and whenever people spend time together...

 behavior may have increased inclusive fitness without there necessarily being an awareness of true genetic relationships. This leaves much room for social explanations regarding how kinship is perceived, especially in environments different from the ancestral. Inclusive fitness in this view only a ultimate causation rather than a proximate causation (See Tinbergen's four questions
Tinbergen's four questions
Tinbergen's four questions, named after Nikolaas Tinbergen, are complementary categories of explanations for behavior. It suggests that an integrative understanding of behavior must include both a proximate and ultimate analysis of behavior, as well as an understanding of both...

). Holland argues that thus properly understood, anthropological findings regarding widely different perceptions of kinship and evolutionary theory are compatible.

Holland also argued that the work of Janet Carsten (outlined above) represents one productive strand of the re-casting of the relationship between kinship and biology. A similar approach, that has been called 'nurture kinship' emphasizes that social relationships, and the cooperation that accompanies them, are commonly built upon emotional bonds and attachments. This perspective re-unites current ethnographic findings both with the work of earlier anthropologists such as Audrey Richards
Audrey Richards
Audrey Isabel Richards , was a pioneering British woman social anthropologist who worked mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.Audrey was the second of four girls born to a well-connected family in London, England...

, and also with John Bowlby
John Bowlby
Edward John Mostyn "John" Bowlby was a British psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, notable for his interest in child development and for his pioneering work in attachment theory.- Family background :...

 and colleagues' foundational work on emotional attachment theory
Attachment theory
Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally. Attachment theory is an interdisciplinary study...

. In this sense inclusive fitness
Inclusive fitness
In evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, the inclusive fitness of an organism is the sum of its classical fitness and the number of equivalents of its own offspring it can add to the population by supporting others...

 theory is indeed compatible with ethnographic data on human kinship, though its explanatory scope is much narrower than sociobiology and evolutionary psychology had typically assumed. Its application is limited to theorizing the ultimate causes of the (non-deterministic) proximate mechanisms of cooperation such as emotional attachments. Bowlby himself emphasized the compatibility of his own work with inclusive fitness
Inclusive fitness
In evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, the inclusive fitness of an organism is the sum of its classical fitness and the number of equivalents of its own offspring it can add to the population by supporting others...

 theory. For a full account of actual kinship patterns in any particular human society, ethnography, including the analysis of e.g. symbolic, economic and other systems, remains central.

See also


  • Kinism
  • Kinship terminology
    Kinship terminology
    Kinship terminology refers to the various systems used in languages to refer to the persons to whom an individual is related through kinship. Different societies classify kinship relations differently and therefore use different systems of kinship terminology - for example some languages...

  • Family
    Family
    In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...

  • Family history
    Family history
    Family history is the systematic narrative and research of past events relating to a specific family, or specific families.- Introduction :...

  • Genealogy of the British Royal Family
    Genealogy of the British Royal Family
    The recorded genealogy of the British Royal Family traces back to the early Middle Ages. Although there is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the Royal Family, and different lists will include different people, those carrying the style His or Her Majesty or His or...

  • Godparent
    Godparent
    A godparent, in many denominations of Christianity, is someone who sponsors a child's baptism. A male godparent is a godfather, and a female godparent is a godmother...

  • Inheritance
    Inheritance
    Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

  • Fictive kinship
    Fictive kinship
    Fictive kinship is a term used by anthropologists and ethnographers to distinguish between forms of kinship or social ties that are based on neither consanguinal nor affinal ties...

  • Clan
    Clan
    A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

  • Dynasty
    Dynasty
    A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

  • Tribe
    Tribe
    A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

  • Heredity
    Heredity
    Heredity is the passing of traits to offspring . This is the process by which an offspring cell or organism acquires or becomes predisposed to the characteristics of its parent cell or organism. Through heredity, variations exhibited by individuals can accumulate and cause some species to evolve...

  • Kin selection
    Kin selection
    Kin selection refers to apparent strategies in evolution that favor the reproductive success of an organism's relatives, even at a cost to the organism's own survival and reproduction. Charles Darwin was the first to discuss the concept of group/kin selection...

  • Kinship analysis
    Kinship analysis
    Kinship analysis is any analysis that deals with kinship. Such analyses are used in many different disciplines of research, where analysis is conducted in different ways....

  • Consanguinity
    Consanguinity
    Consanguinity refers to the property of being from the same kinship as another person. In that respect, consanguinity is the quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person...

  • Brideservice
    Brideservice
    Bride service has traditionally been portrayed in the anthropological literature as the service rendered by the bridegroom to a bride's family as a bride price or part of one ....

  • Bride price
    Bride price
    Bride price, also known as bride wealth, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom...

  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Australian Aboriginal kinship
    Australian Aboriginal kinship
    Australian Aboriginal kinship is the system of law governing social interaction, particularly marriage, in traditional Australian Aboriginal culture...

  • Chinese kinship
    Chinese kinship
    The Chinese kinship system is classified as a Sudanese kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Sudanese system is one of the six major kinship systems together with Eskimo, Hawaiian,...

  • Serbo-Croatian kinship
  • Cinderella effect
    Cinderella Effect
    The Cinderella effect is a term used by psychologists to describe the high incidence of stepchildren being physically abused, emotionally abused, sexually abused, neglected, murdered, or otherwise mistreated at the hands of their stepparents at significantly higher rates than at the hands of their...

  • Assamese kinship


External links