Kinship Anthropology Essay Ideas

Kinship Essay


A kinship is a working system linking human beings together in an orderly arrangement of interactions, by which particular customs are seen as functioning parts of the social machinery. A kinship system is a network of social relations which constitutes part of that total network of social relations which is the social structure. The rights and duties of relatives to one another are part of the system and so are the terms used in addressing or referring to relatives.

To understand any kinship system it is necessary to carry out analysis in terms of social structure and social function. The component of social structure are human beings, and the structure is an arrangement of functions in relations, institutionally defined and regulated.

Basic terminology

For the understanding of any aspect of social life ,whether economic, political or religious , it is essential to have a thorough knowledge of the system of kinship and marriage.

A system of kinship and marriage can be looked at as an arrangement which enables people to live together and co-operate with another in an orderly social life. It links persons together by convergence of interest and sentiments and controls and limits those conflicts that are always possible as the result of divergence of sentiments or interest.

All the kinship system of the world are the product of social evolution. An example of diverse kinship system played by cattle in kinship and marriage can be looked at patrilineal cattle keeping people of south and east African people from Sudan and Transkei.

Two persons are kins, when one is descended from the other as per example- grandchild is descended from a grandparent or when they are both...

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This essay provides information about the Kinship:

Man is a social animal. His social nature compels him to tie with others in some form of relationships. He always live with his fellow beings and is surrounded by different kinds of people. The people with which he lives in society are his friends, relatives, neighbors and strangers. Out of all these people man is bound up with some either through blood ties or marriage ties. This bond of blood or marriage which binds people together in a group is called kinship.

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This kinship system based on a biological fact of sexual intercourse between men and women. The desire for reproduction gives rise to a kind of binding relationship. Thus kinship is an interlocking system of families of orientation and procreation. But in a kinship system social recognition overrides biological facts.

That is why kinship system includes socially recognized relationships. These relationships are the product of social interaction. A kinship group may be a broad- range or narrow range.

Kinship refers solely to relationship based upon descent and marriage. An individual plays many roles in his social life such as – son, father, brother etc. Kinship is the idiom by which many people particularly in traditional societies comprehend these roles. Kinship is a construct, a cultural artifact created by almost all kinds of human society. As an artifact it primarily shapes people. Kinship relations are the most basic attachments a man has. Kinship is a social relationship based on real consanguinity.

(1) According to the Dictionary of Anthropology, “Kinship system includes socially recognized relationships based on supposed as well as actual genealogical ties.” Kinship is a cultural system. It varies from culture to culture, from society to society.

(2) According to Theodorson and Theodorson, “Kinship system is the customary system of statuses and roles that governs the behavior of people who are related to each other through marriage or descent from a common ancestor.”

(3) According to Murdock, “Kinship is a structured system of relationship in which kins are bound to one another by complex inter­locking ties.”

(4) According to Smelser, “Kinship is a cluster of social relations based on such factors as biological ties, marriage and legal rules regarding adoption, guardianship and the like.”

Thus, from the above it is concluded that the relationships created through marriage or blood ties are called kinship. When two or more persons are related to each other through descent or united through marriage kinship comes into existence. Murdock opines that each and every adult individual belongs to two nuclear families.

The family of orientation i.e. the family in which one is born and brought up and the family of procreation i.e. the family established through marriage. The relationships formed by both these types of family, ancestors, posterity and successors are called Kinship. Hence every kinship system has blood relations and close relatives based on intimacy.

Study of Kinship: Sociologists and anthropologists like Lowte, Murdock and Levistrauss have made a detailed study on Kinship. Famous anthropologist Radcliffe Brown and Robin Fox have also examined the kinship system. Mrs. Iravati Karve and K.M. Kapadia have analyzed the kinship relationships in Indian society. H.M. Johnson also studied kinship system.

The Important Types of Kinship:

Kinship mainly divided into two types such as:

(1) Consanguineous Kinship:

Those kins who are related to each other by blood is known as consanguineous kins. The relationship is based on blood ties. Son, daughter, sister etc. are example of consanguineous kinship.

(2) Affinal Kinship:

The kinship relationship established by marriage is known as affinal kinship. And the relatives so related are called affinal kins. Son-in-law, Father-in-law, Mother-in-law, Sister- in-law etc. are example of affinal kins.

Types of Kins or Degree of Kinship:

On the basis of nearness or distance kins may be classified into primary secondary and tertiary kins. These are:

(1) Primary Kins:

Those kins who are closely and directly related to one another are called primary kins. Normally there are eight types of primary kins which includes husband-wife, father-son, mother-son, father-daughter, mother-daughter, sister-brother, younger brother-elder brother, younger sister-elder sister. One’s father is one’s primary consanguineous kins whereas one’s wife is one’s primary affinal kins.

(2) Secondary Kins:

Secondary Kins are defined in relation to our primary kins. Primary kins of our primary kins are called secondary kins. Father’s brother, sister’s husband, brother’s wife are our secondary kins. An anthropologist opines that there are 33 types of secondary kins.

(3) Tertiary Kins:

The secondary kins of our primary kins is known as tertiary kins. Brother of sister’s husband, wife of brother- in-law are example of tertiary kins. An anthropologists opines that there are at about 151 types of tertiary kins. Besides the above types of kin there may be some other type of kins such as:

(1) Consanguineal Kin:

A consanguineal kin is a person who is related through blood ties such as father, brother, mother, son, daughter etc.

(2) Affinal Kin:

An affinal kin is a person who is related through marriage such as husband, wife, spouse’s parents etc.

(3) Lineal Kin:

A lineal kin is a person who is related by a direct line of descent such as father, father’s father, son and son’s son etc.

(4) Collateral Kin:

A collateral kin is a person who is related indirectly through the mediation of another relative such as father’s brother, mother’s sister etc.


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