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What is kinship?

- blood relationship.
- a sharing of characteristics or origins.
- A system of social ties deriving from the recognition of genealogical relations
o universally recognized and
o universally accorded social importance
- In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the
lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are
often debated.

Why is Kinship Important to people

It determines
- Who they marry
- Where to live
- How to raise children
- Which land to cultivate
- Which property to inherit
- Who to turn to for help
- Provides a sense of
belonging and identity
- How to behave with respect
to others

E. How society is organized

1. Groups within society: Primary
and Secondary
2. In-groups and out-groups
3. Reference groups
4. Networks

F. Cultural, social and political institutions

1. Kinship, marriage, and the household
a. Kinship by blood Descent and marriage
o Unilineal
o Matrilineal
o Patrilineal
o Bilateral
b. Kinship by marriage Marriage rules cross-culturally
o monogamy vs. polygamy
o post-marital residency rules
o referred marriage partners
c. Kinship by ritual (Compadrazgo)
d. Family and the household Nuclear, extended, and reconstituted families (separated,
e. Politics of kinship (political dynasty, alliances)
Philippine kinship
Descent Systems
Rules that people in different cultures use to:
 determine parenthood
 identify ancestry
 assign people to social categories, groups, and roles on the basis of inherited status.

What is a descent group?

 A group of people who recognize lineal descent from a real or mythical ancestor - a
criterion of membership
 Membership needs to be clearly defined so one knows where one's loyalties lie
 A publicly recognised social entity
 Traced through one sex, everyone is unambiguously assigned to a group
 Obligations and roles keeps group together
 Citizenship derived from lineage membership and legal status depends on it
 Political power and religious power derived from it, cults of gods and ancestors
 A strong effective base for social relations
 In tribal societies, the descent group, not the nuclear family, is the fundamental unit.

How is a descent group like a corporation?

 Continues after the death of the members
 New members are born into it
 A perpetual existence that allows it to take corporate actions
 Land owning
 Organizing productive activities
 Distributing goods and labour
 Assigning status
 Regulating relationships with other groups

Unilineal descent
 People trace ancestry through either the mother's or father's line, but NOT both
 About 60% of kinship systems are unilineal.
 Generally clear cut and unambiguous social units.
 People of same descent group live together, hold joint interests in property.
 In many societies descent groups assume important corporate functions such as land

Patrilineal Descent
 Most prevalent
 Established by tracing descent exclusively through males from a founding
male ancestor.
 Both men and women are included but only male links are utilized to
include successive generations
 A woman's children are not included in her paternal group but her
brother's are. Her children belong to her husband's group
 Property passed through father’s lineage
 tends toward male dominated power-structure
 often associated with intensive agriculture and pastoralism.
 Established by tracing only through females from a founding female ancestor
 A Man's children are not included in his matrilineal group but his sister's are
 This makes him important as an uncle
 Property is inherited through females line
 Often associated with horticulturalists
 Eg. Trobriand islanders and Hopi

(BLUE) Patrilineal descent Female ego - Note that a woman's children are not included in her
patrilineal group.
(RED) Matrilineal Kin - Male Ego
Note that a man's children are not included in his matrilineal group.

Bilateral descent
 All societies construct their kinship systems and
define social relationships and social groups on
the basis of a bilateral network
 Formed through the combinations of
marriage and descent ties
 Rarely forms a recognized social group
 Usually only one side of the relationship

w Bilateral kinship is used by most Canadians and Americans.

w Kinship is traced through both male and female lines.
w Kin links through males and females are perceived as being similar or equivalent.
w In North American bilateral kinship there is often matrilineal skewing, a preference for
relatives on the mother's side.

What are the Features of a Bilateral Kindred?

 Everyone is different, sibs excepted
 Changes as grow older
 Does not function as a group except at weddings and funerals
 Functions in relation to ego
 Little generational depth
 No leader
 Does not hold property, organize
work or administer justice i.e.
does not function as a corporate
 Besides the recognition of
consanguineal kin or blood
relatives there are
 Affinal relatives or those related
by way of marriage

KINSHIP BY MARRIAGE (Marriage rules cross-culturally)

mo·nog·a·my the practice or state of being married to one person at a time.

Monogamy is a form of relationship in which an individual has only one partner during their
lifetime — alternately, only one partner at any one time — as compared to non-monogamy.

po·lyg·a·my the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at
the same time.
Polygamy is the practice of marrying multiple spouses. When a man is married to more than
one wife at a time, sociologists call this polygyny. When a woman is married to more than
one husband at a time, it is called polyandry.

Post-marital residence rules specify where a person resides after marriage and,
accordingly, influence the structure and size of household units. Anthropologists
have identified several basic rules and related domestic forms. However, adherence
to a specific residence rules involves many complications and consequences and a
firm classification of a particular society's arrangements is sometime ambiguous.
Accordingly, the form and dynamics of household must be understood in terms
of houselhold flexibility, ideal vs actual arrangements, and the domestic cycle.
The following general patterns have been observed in varying socieities around the

1. Neolocal Residence
This system is determined by a rule that each spouse leaves his or her family
of origin and jointly forms a new household, which develops as nuclear
family. This is of course the basic pattern in modern industrial societies.
2. Patrilocal Residence
A patrilocal rule specifies that, upon marriage, a man remains in his father's
household while his wife leaves her family to move in with him. As children
are born, they are added to the paternal unit. The result is a patrilocal
extended family, in which three or more generations of related men live
together to form a shallow patrilineage. An alternate designation, virilocal,
refers to a simpler rule that a wife must move to her husband's residence.
3. Matrilocal Residence
A matrilocal rule specifies that, upon marriage, a woman remains in her
mother's household while her husband leaves his family to move in with her.
As children are born, they are added to the maternal unit. The result is a
matrilocal extended family, in which three or more generations of related
women live together to form a shallow matrilineage. An alternate
designation, uxorilocal, refers to a simpler rule that a husband must move to
his wife's residence.
4. Matrifocal Residence
A matrifocal family consists of a woman and her children and sometimes
her daughter's children, without coresident husbands or other adult men.
This pattern is not usually an expression of a rule or cultural preference but
results from economic conditions in which a man is unable to support a
family. The household form is different from a matrilocal one, in which
wives and husbands are coresident.
5. Avunculocal Residence
The avunculocal rule is more complicated than the previous ones, since two
residence changes are involved. Household formation begins with a virilocal
rule, placing a married woman in her husband's household, where their
children are raised. Upon reaching maturity, the men must relocate to their
mother's brother's household, the actual avunculocal move. The result is an
avunculocal extended family consisting of one or more elder men, their
sister's sons, and the wives and immature children of all the married men.
6. Ambilocal Residence
In a ambilocal pattern a married couple decides whether to join either the
husband's or wife's household of origin. According to the choice made in the
previous generations, they may reside with either spouse's father or mother.
The result is an ambilocal extended family.
7. Natalocal Residence
The natalocal rule specifies that each partner remains with his and her own
families of residence after marriage. If children remain in their mother's
household the result will be the formation of domestic matrilineages to
which all male and female residents belong.