Kinship and marriage

  • Created by: melissa
  • Created on: 13-05-15 11:22


Blood relations: a person who is related to another by birth rather than by marriage. 

Kinship: a network of relatives into which individuals are born and married, and with whom they cooperate based on customarily prescribed rights and obligations. 

Unilineal descent: descent traced exclusively through either the male or female line of ancestry to establish group membership.

Matrilineal descent: form of descent in which individuals trace their primary kinship relationships through their mothers. In matrilineal descent it is the mother's relatives who are the most important in a person's life. People are most likely to live with or near the mother's relatives and usually inherit property from their mother or mother's brothers.

Patrilineal descent: form of descent in which individuals trace their primary kinship relationships through their fathers. May produce more inequality.

Incest taboo: Any cultural norm or rule that prohibits acts of sexual relations between relatives. Malinowski (functionalist) said that the lack of an incest taboo would disrupt the socialisation of a groups children which is essential for society. 

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Kinship: the Na of China:

Farmers in the Himalayan region, live without the institution of marriage. Na brothers and sisters live together their entire lives, sharing household responsibilities and raising the women's children. Because the Na, like all cultures, prohibit incest, they practice a system of sometimes furtive, sometimes conspicious night-time encounters at the woman's home. The womans partners (she frequently has more than one) bear no economic responsibility for her or his children, and "fathers", unless they ressemble their children remain un-identifiable. 

This ethnographic study shows how a soceity can function without husbands or fathers. It sheds light on marriage and kinship, as well as on the position of women, the necessary conditions for the aquisition of identity, and the impact of a communist state on a society that is considered backwards. 

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Masaai: arranged marriage

Marriage is arranged by the father. No girl can be married if she is not circumcised. Marriage is achived by the elders. Polygyny is an ideal achieved by most elder men and as a result most women become widows and it is understood they should not marry another man. 

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Kinship: the trobriand islanders

Malinowski- matrilineal. All members part of a matrilinealage which forms four matriclans altogether. Most important task of the clan is to arrange marriages. 

Political power remains with men although descent is traced through women. each has a male chief. The mothers brother acts acts as an authority to his sisters children. The trobrianders are virolocal, the newly wed couple settle with the man's family, not with the womans. 

Horticulturalists and the staple food is the yam. However, each household does not primarily cultivate yams for their own consumption. Rather they grow yams for the man's matrilineal relatives. A man and his household thus grow yams for the man's sister. The purpose of a traffic of yams is a symbolic reminder of kin obligations- and a political action as well. The woman's husband controls the yams and he is obligated to repay her brother for them- either by giving him presents or through political support. A man with several wives thus has a good opportunity for acquiring political power since he receives a lot of yams not required for food which may then be invested. 

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