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As for merging "Kinship and Descent" into "Kinship"[edit]

  1. Its a fairly easy task (but I wont do it myself)
  2. "Kinship and Descent" is a designation that makes the American POV cultural assumption that kinship is based on blood relationship. Schneider (1984) is one of many who critique this position. Its would be a major mistake to classify the category kinship under an exclusively American POV. German, French, and British anthropology, among others, define kinship as including marriage and descent, and this was the view of one of the founders of american anthropology, L.H. Morgan. Schneider's critique of kinship theory in his study of American kinship makes precisely this point. Don't go there: the "Kinship and Descent" article category should be abolished (merged under kinship for greater generality), and the best option is to merge with Kinship which was just rewritten with this greater generality in mind.Douglas R. White (talk) 16:04, 8 February 2008 (UTC) See Wiktionary:Kinship for the generic definition of kinship, including marriage.

BTW my revision took into account SineBot's comments below: I did translate the German Wiki entry and modeled some early elements of our new entry on it. Those early paragraphs might might still be a bit stilted and repetitive as a result.

My question then: can we now save the useful bibliography and now dump the notice to consider merging Kinship into "Kinship and Descent"?
I just posted this on the Kinship and descent page:
I agree with Douglas White that no article should provide solely an American POV. However, I do not think that is relevant to the question of merger. Let me put it another way: either this article should be renamed, Descent groups and should be one of a series of very focused articles on specific themes relating to kinship broadly conceived, or there should be one article on kinship, which explains ideas of kinship broadly conceived and then covers all major topics related to kinship, including descent groups. I favor the merger, in part precisely because it makes it easier to explain debates over the relationship between kinship and biological relatedness.
Slrubenstein | Talk 17:13, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Comments made before major revision[edit]

(Sorry, I dont mean to preempt but we need to discuss the recent revision)Douglas R. White (talk) 16:07, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

I believe the description here is too vague. definitely!

Kinship is a concept shared between people about their relationship to one another. They believe they share a common family, usually by descent from a common ancestor but also through additional adding rituals such as marriage. In almost all societies, an individual shares some economic, political, or emotional resource with their "kin". This sharing provides a tempting target for political manipulation or "top down" redefinition. Traditionally, kinship is determined "bottom up" in a culture. Authoritarian interference with an individual's internal definition of his/her kin is very common and is the source of much confusion about this term.

I took out the final line, which mentioned the "Christian injunction" that "charity begins at home." That's an error - the phrase is not found in the Bible, but in Dickens. It's a minor point, and it was extraneous to the entry anyway, so I just deleted it.

Not only is this description a bit too vague and narrowly focused, it's somewhat off the mark. The idea of symbolic kinship is already prominent in Claude Levi-Strauss' The Elementary Structures of Kinship. First published in 1949, Levi-Strauss' study of kinship is interested in the way social alliances are established and structured. For example, inter-tribal marriage is a mode of creating kinship between two tribes, thus strengthening their collective social influence and offering a means of protection through sheer increase in mass. Schneider's work some 35 years later is most certainly not the first influential work on kinship to consider the topic outside the biological realm.

The german version of this article is great and also has a nice little german picture and everything. Anybody up to translating it into english? This one is kind of sparse. —Preceding comment was added at 02:18, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Locations/cultures who used the Kinship network[edit]

It would be wonderful if someone would start adding the areas that relied on the kinship network, giving more information. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:52, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Some Initial Notes for Proposed Upgrade of this Article[edit]

Subject to advice and/or confirmation from others (particularly Wikipedia:WikiProject_Anthropology members), it would be my proposal to, initially, here on this talk page, collect together some of the key anthropological writings about kinship, arrange them chronologically, then annotate them.

It is anticipated that such an approach has the potential to grow comprehensively .. and that as the annotated chronology grows .. annotations/writings will start to fall and/or bunch into groups with certain endeavours, kinds of findings, or kinds of conclusions .. which we might then 'label', and transform into narrative?

For any who may be interested in participating in an exercise of the above kind ..or simply expanding and upgrading the article in their own way, for interest, I include a quote I've just encountered:

"Few Academic Battlegrounds have been so littered with the ink-stained corpses of their protagonists as those surrounding kinship and cultural relativism."[1]

Bruceanthro (talk) 13:02, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Growing Annotated Chronology of Writings (see above)[edit]


MAINE, H.S. (1861) Ancient Law John Murray

"English lawyer, Sir Henry Maine .. was chiefly interested in Indo-European institutions, and in particular in the 'patriarchal joint-family' - the family of fathers and sons holding property in common which was the main kinship unit in India, and, in Maine's opinion the orginal form of the Indo-European 'family' (Fox 1967: 18)
[Maine] is best known for his work Ancient Law(1861) which concentrated on the evolution of legal systems as the key to social evolution.. he argued that the most primitive societies were patrilineal and patriarchal, a theory that contrasts with the views of other evolutionary thinkers whoput forward the primacy of primitive promiscuity or matriarchy. Maine's broad evolutionary scheme was based on the development of society from systems based on kinship to those based on territoriality, from status to contract, and from civil to criminal law.." (Seymour-Smith 1986)
"Maine's Ancient Law expounded the patriarchal theory of the origin of society, arguing that the first social units were patriarchal families under the authority of the senior male. the aggregation of such family units constitued the next stage of social evolution. On the death of the senior male, Maine argued, his sons and their families would stay together, thus forming a larger unit based on extended consanguinal kinship ties. Maine contrasted these 'blood' ties with the relationships based on territorial attachment or 'local contiguity' which become the basis of more advanced stages of social evolution." (Seymour-Smith 1986: 169) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bruceanthro (talkcontribs) 08:03, 11 February 2008 (UTC)


MCLENNAN, J.F. (1865) Primitive Marriage Black

"Mclennan violently opposed Maines (above) conclusions as they violated his principle that kinship through females was the original form. This debate between the matriarchal and patriarchal schools of thought proceeded with mounting acrimonyfor .. fifty years.." (Fox 1967: 18) Bruceanthro (talk) 13:44, 3 February 2008 (UTC)


MORGAN, L.H. (1871) "Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family". Smithson. Contrib. Know. Number 17. Page 218 [Confirm details!]:

"..his study of kinship and marriage .. was .. to develop into a comparative theory .. This work is also a milestone in the development of anthropology, establishing kinship and marriage as central areas of anthropological enquiry and beginning an enduring preoccupation with kinship terminologies as the key to the interpretaton of kinship systems.." (Seymour-Smith 1986: 201.)Bruceanthro (talk) 16:16, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
"..the dominant emphasis .. was on Kinship Terminology, so that studies of kinship systems were organised around contrasting and explaining different terminological systems.." (Seymour-Smith 1986: 157) Bruceanthro (talk) 13:45, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
See also Kinship Terminology for summary of Lewis Morgan's contribution .. though the article seems to be lacking in text citing/referencing. Bruceanthro (talk) 00:16, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
"classificatory/descriptive kinship terminologies. This distinction was originally made by MORGAN. Classificatory kin terms subsume various biological kin types: specifically, the place lineal and collateral kin in the same category, while descriptive terms refer only to one specified biological kin type, and distinguish lineal from collateral relatives. Morgan argued that the most primitive kinship terminologies were classificatory and the more advanced ones descriptive by nature" (Seymour-Smith 1986:39-40) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bruceanthro (talkcontribs) 14:31, 11 February 2008 (UTC)


MORGAN, L.H (1877) Ancient Society. Henry Holt and Company. New York.

"Lewis H. Henry (1877) .. concentrated on the evolutionary stages of kinship [and].. attempted to demonstrate that different marriage practices determined the various kinship systems he had classified .. Although Morgan overly stressed the importance of kinship terminology for reconstructing social evolutionary stages, he laid a sound foundation through his own observation and in his collection of questionnaires about kin terminologies from around the world" (Schusky 1972: 1)
"Lewis Henry Morgan .. began collecting schedules of 'kinship terminologies' from all over the world and from the societies of classical antiquity. He noted that many nations, far seperated in time and in space, had similar types of .. nomenclatures. On the assumption that their words referred to biological relationships, he attempted to explain how the seemingly odd distribution came about .. he traced a series of [evolutionary] stages comparable but different in detail from McLennans (above). This roused the ire of the .. Scot [McLennan] who accused Morgan of putting too much faith in terminology which did not in any case have anything to do with the biological relationship but was merely a 'code of courtesies showing 'degrees of respect. However the ship was launched and from then onwards anthropologists have been concerned with kinship terminologists .. For a time, indeed, the 'study of kinship' was virtually the study of kinship terms and a debate about the explanation of them." (Fox 1967: 19)
"[Morgan] not only studied terminology but the structure of social groups. He found, for example, that the Iroquois were organzed into kinship groups based on descent in the female line. These groups were organized into larger groups which he called phratries. When he turned to the dwelling Aztecs, he found that they were organised into kinship groups based on descent in the male line, and again these were organised into larger units with the Spanish had called barrios .. he thought he had one of the clues to social evolution. It fitted very well with the theory derived from terminology studies. Out of promiscuity came 'kinship through females only' in the more primitive societies, then there was a change to 'kinship through males only' and the development of cities and civilisation" (Fox 1967: 20)

Bruceanthro (talk) 15:57, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

[Morgan preserved MAINES distinction between kinship and territory (see for example, his distinction between societas and civitas) though differing in the details of the evolution of family- and kin-based groups. Thus MORGAN [like MCLENNAN] argued that the original state of society was not patriarchy but primitive promiscuity, which was superceded first by matriliny and later by patrilny. (Seymour-Smith 1986: 169) Bruceanthro (talk) 07:55, 11 February 2008 (UTC)


TYLOR, Edward (1889) "On a Method of Investigating the Development of Institutions; Applied to the Laws of Marriage and Descent" Journal ofthe Royal Anthropological Institute. Number 18. Pages 245-272.


RIVERS, W. H. R. 1907. "On the origin of the classificatory system of relationships." in THOMAS, N.W (Ed) Anthropological Essays Presented to E. B. Tylor. Clarendon. Oxford. Pages 309- 25.

RIVERS, W.H.R (1914) Kinship and Social Organization. Oxford University Press. London.

"W.H.R Rivers improved ethnographic methodology by collecting lengthy genealogies, or actual kinship charts, from many individuals of a society. From his real genealogies Rivers constructed the ideal systems that Morgan has gathered, but in addition, Rivers saw practices not reflected in the ideal terminology alone." (Schusky 1972: 1) Bruceanthro (talk) 13:37, 2 February 2008 (UTC)


LANG, A. (1908) "The origin of terms of relationship." Proc. Brit..4cad. 3:139-58


KROEBER, Alfred (1909) "Classificatory Systems of Relationship" Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Number 39. Pages 77-84.

Rejects distinction between descriptive and classificatory systems; sets out 8 discernible principles of categorisation: 1) diff. between persons of the same and of separate generations; 2. diff. between lineal and collateral relationship; 3. diff. of age within one generation; 4. the sex of the relative; 5. the sex of the speaker; 6. the sex of the person through whom the relationship exists; 7. the distinction of blood relatives from connections by marriage; 8. the conditions of life (e.g. dead or alive, married or unmarried) of the person through whom relationship exists. Societies differ in which principles of categorisation are used, and also in how completely they are used. Robotforaday (talk) 00:50, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
"Kroeber (1909) showed kinship to be more complex than indicated by Morgan .. Krober stressed his view that terminology was primarily a linguistic phenomenon. He believed kin behaviour would best be understood in psychological, rather than sociological terms. .. Kroeber later modified his views of kinship terminology and recognised terms as more than linguistic phenomenon. His 1909 analysis, however, has had a lasting influence on the field.

1927_SPENCER& GILLEN[edit]

SPENCER, B & GILLEN, F.J. (1927) The Arunta: A Stone Age People. (2 Volumes) MacMillan, London.:


LOWIE, Robert H. (1928) "A Note on Relationship Terminologies " American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1928), pp. 263-267:

LOWIE, Robert H. (1937) History of Ethnological Theory. New York:

"Lowie .. reached three important conclusions [within a sustained empiricist critque, commencing with BOAS, critquing MAINE, MORGAN, & MCLENNAN's patriachry/primitive promiscuity social evolutionary theories]:
i. that historically the family is present at every stage of culture,
ii. that there is no fixed evolutionary order of matriliny and patriliny, and
iii. that both bilateral family group and the unilineal kin group are based on territorial as well as consanguineal principles" (Seymour-Smith 1986: 169) Bruceanthro (talk) 07:48, 11 February 2008 (UTC)


MALINOWSKI, B (1929) The Sexual Life of Savages Routledge and Kegan Paul. Bruceanthro (talk) 14:25, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Offers an account of a matrilineal society in which physiological paternity is denied. However, while paternity may be unknown in the "full biological sense", illegitimacy is considered socially undesirable, making the husband socially indispensible. Emphasis is therefore placed on the social role of fatherhood; 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" (p195); "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" (p202). Robotforaday (talk) 03:03, 2 February 2008 (UTC)


HOCART, A. M. (1937) "Kinship systems". Anthropos 32:345-51.


FORTES, M (1945) The Dynamics of Clanship among the Tallensi. Oxford University Press. Oxford. Bruceanthro (talk) 14:50, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

The 'ethnographic paradigms' for lineage theory (see Radcliffe Brown above on unilineal descent) were provided by FORTES and EVANS-PRICHARD with their research in Africa. .. thus the .. classic monograph.. FORTES' The Dynamics of Clanship among the Tallensi marked both the establishment of the functionalist and lineage theory perspectives as the dominant paradigms in British social anthropology ...
Fortes defined Tallensi clans as localized associations containing lineages.. Fortes described the sometimes ambigious 'feilds of clanship' created by cross-cutting and overlapping ties between clans and their segments. These clan ties consisted of a variety of social and symbolic elements, including ritual relations and also relations of marriage as well as genealogical connections. Neith clans nor lineages were conceptualised by Fortes as necessarily constituting corporate economic or dominant political groups. Nevertheless Fortes did argue that unilineal descent was primary to group structure and Tallensi values.
In order to account for the importance of matrilateral ties in the patrilineal system, Fortes distinguished the domain of family and kinship relations (which are bilateral) from that of clanship, which is unilineal and where jural priority is given to patrilineal descent as a principle regulating intergroup relations." (Seymour-Sith 1986: 170) Bruceanthro (talk) 15:28, 15 February 2008 (UTC)


LEVI-STRAUSS, Claude (1949) The Elementary Structures of Kinship

See the article on Alliance theory which makes a stab at summarising Levi-Strauss' contribution. Robotforaday (talk) 03:55, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
"In spite of an early anthropological interest in forms of marriage alliance, the field kinship studies in the 20th century, both in the USA and in Britain was dominated for a long period by the almost exclusive emphasis on DESCENT to the exclusion of alliance. The 'underlying spell of descent' .. was broken by the publication of Levi-Strauss's "The Elementary Structures of Kinship" ..The work of Levi-Strauss and anthropologists inspired by his method established the school of Alliance theory which redressed the balance in the study of systems of kinship .." (Seymour-Smith 1986: 157) Bruceanthro (talk) 11:34, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
"Levi-Strauss .. conern[ed] himself with the structural properties and evolutionary implications of different types of alliance rule. He postulated a distinction between elementary structures where a positive marriage rule exists (i.e the marriagable category is defined by kin status) and complex structures where the choice of marriage partner is based on non-kin crieria... [all] linked to .. tracing the logic of reciprocity and exchange in sociocultural systems ... One of the major areas of study within alliance theory has been the implications of different types of positive marriage rules in real-life social and political systems .. formal models of direct exchange, of matrilateral cross-cousin marriage, of patrilateral cross-cousin marriage and so on, with their implications for moieties, .. may or may not coincide with the empirical existence of the approriate system of wife-exchanging local groups .. " (Seymour Smith 1986: 9)

Opposition of alliance theory came from [descent theory]] .. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bruceanthro (talkcontribs) 12:08, 7 February 2008 (UTC)


MURDOCK, George (1949) Social Structure. The Macmillan Company. New York.:

"..revived evolutionary [of kinship systems] interest" (Fox 1967: 23)
"[Murdock] continued to reconstruct history through the comparison of kinship systems. Similarities between kinship systems .. indicate the possibility of a common origin for societies, .. Murdock suggests a logical sequence of change through successive types of social structure." (Schusky 1972: 2)
"[Murdock's] best known work is Social Structure in which he focused on family and kinship organization, seeking sets of functionally interrelated traits in a wide range of societies." (Seymour-Smith 1986: 202) Bruceanthro (talk) 14:04, 2 February 2008 (UTC)


EVANS-PRITCHARD, E.E. (1951) Kinship and Marriage among the Nuer


RADCLIFFE-BROWN, A. R. (1952) Structure and Function in Primitive Society. Free Press. Glencoe, Ill.:

"[Radcliffe-Brown] argued against evolutionary perspectives in anthropology, and advocated a synchronic or functional approach to the laws of social life .. preferring to analyse the social structure, a preference which was to be profoundly influential in shaping the nature of British [and Australian?]] anthropology." (Seymour-Smith 1986: 239)
"Radcliffe-Brown's insistence on studying a kinship system as a field of rights and obligations (the legal influence again), and of seeing it as part of the social structure, has been much more infuential [than Malinowski's psychological interests]. His comparative method has been less avidly adopted [than Malinowski's feild research methods], and his notion that the 'laws' of anthropology are comparable to the laws of natural science has been more or less abandoned." (Fox 1969: 21)

Bruceanthro (talk) 07:59, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Radcliffe-Brown argued that kin-based corporate groups were necessarily unilineal, since only unilineal descent could provide fixed and unambigious group membership. Thus unilineal descent groups were the natural solution to the problems of social stability and continuity in kin-based societies. (Seymour Smith 1986: 170) Bruceanthro (talk) 14:58, 15 February 2008 (UTC)


LEACH, Edmund (1959) "Concerning Trobriand Class and the Kinship Category Tabo' in GOODY, J (Ed)

Leach (1959) claims .. that 'kinship terms are category words by means of which the individual is taught to recognize the significant groupings in the social structure. Bruceanthro (talk) 12:40, 11 February 2008 (UTC)


LEACH, Edmund (1962) Rethinking Anthropology. London

Leach..[critiquing kinship typologies] argued that rather than prejudice the content of social relations by employing the labels 'patriliny' or 'matriliny' we should seek more value-free or 'mathmatical' ways of expressing the relations between structural elements." (Seymour-Smith 1986: 170) Bruceanthro (talk) 15:45, 15 February 2008 (UTC)


BARNES, J.A (1967) "Genealogies" in EPSTEIN, A.L (Ed) The Craft of Social Anthropology. Tavistock Publications. London.

"Barnes (1967: 103) distinguishes pedigrees from genealogies in this way. A pedigree is 'a genealogical statement made orally, diagrammatically, or in writing by an actor or informant', but a genealogy is 'a genealocigal statement made by an ethnographer as part of his feild record or tis' analysis. In other words, a pedigree is our first order record of someone elses' statement of their kin relations to others, but a geneaology is our second-order statement of other people's account of their kin relations amongst themselves." (Rigsby 1999: 108) Bruceanthro (talk) 16:14, 3 February 2008 (UTC)


FOX, Robin (1967) Kinship and Marriage: An Anthropological Perspective Penguin Books. Ringwood, Victoria

'Kinship' is introduced, summarised, described and defined in this book as follows:

"Kinship and marriage are about the basic facts of life. They are about 'birth, and copulation, and death' .. Man is an animal, but he puts the basic facts of life to work for himself in ways no other animal does or can..."

Contents page, based on kinship lecture series, providing overview of the kinship ("an anthropological perspective") reads as follows:
1. Kinship, Family, and Descent[edit]
2. The Incest Problem[edit]
3. Local Groups and Descent Groups[edit]
4. Unilineal Descent Groups[edit]
5. Segmentation and Double Descent[edit]
6. Cognatic Descent and Ego-centred Groups[edit]
7. Exogamy and Direct Exchange[edit]
8. Asymmetrical and Complex Systems[edit]
9. Kinship terminology[edit]


SCHNEIDER, D. M. (1968) American Kinship: A Cultural Account. Prentice-Hall. Englewood Cliffs, N.J:

"In .. [American Kinship: A Cultural Account].. he [Schneider]outlined American kinship as a cultural system, explicating it's symbolic logic. This was .. a path breaking work, exemplifying a symbolic approachto culture. Schneider argued that sexual reproduction was a core symbol of kinship in a system which was defined by two dominant orders, that of nature, or substance, and that of law or code. The sexual union of two unrelated partners in marriage provided the symbolic link between these two orders. It resulted in children connected to their parents through blood ties, or 'shared biogenetic substance', symbolising 'diffuse, enduring solidarity'. The idiom of nature was crucial to American kinship 'The family is formed according to the laws of nature and it lives by rules which are regarded by Americans as self-evidently natural(from Carsten 2000):

All of the significant symbols of American kinship are contained within the figure of sexual intercourse,itself a symbolic course. The figure is formulated in American culture as a biological entity and a natural act. Yet throughout, each elementwhich is culturally defined as natural is at the same time augmented and elaborated, built upon and informed by the rule of human reason, embodied in law and in morality.

As Scheider wrote:

"..biological facts, the biological prerequisitesfor human existence, exist .. There is ,,a system of constructsin American culture about those biological facts. That system exists in an adjusted and adjustable relationship with these biological fastest .. But these biological constructs which depict these biological facts have another quality. They have as one of their aspects a symbolic quality, which means they represent somehting other than what they are, over and above and in addition to their existence as biological facts andcultural constructs about biological facts.."

Bruceanthro (talk) 13:53, 1 February 2008 (UTC)


FORTES, Meyer (1969) Kinship and Marriage, and Anthropological Perspective. Penguin Books. Ringwood, Victoria.


GOODENOUGH, W. H. (1970) Description And Comparison in Cultural Anthropology. Aldine. Chicago.


NEEDHAM, R (Ed) (1971) Rethinking Kinship and Marriage


SCHUSKY, Ernest L. (1972) Manual for Kinship Analysis. (2nd Ed). Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Sydney.

Kinship is in this manual, described and defined as follows:

"Anthropologists have studied kinship more than any other single topic. In these extensive studies involving complex kinship charts, symbols, and formulas, anthropologists may even seem to be performing mystic rituals rather than making an analysis of human behavior or cognition .. A major reason for this is that .. kinship .. exhibit[s] regular, recurrent behavior, and is only on the basis of regular, repetitive phenomena that generalizations can be built and tested."

"The regularities of kinship were recognized early in the history of anthropology. The first scholars found that many different peoples of the world classified relatives in much the same way and that there were several basic types of kinship terminologies.."(Schusky: 1)

"..kinship is central in the lives of most people. The rules of behavior and the rules for classifying not only are extensive but also govern one's relationships with all other people.(Schusky: 4)

This manual (part of 'Studies in Anthropological Method series) is divided into two parts, Part One Classifications of Kinship Systems, and Part Two Analysis of Kinship Behavior.
The contents of this manual reads as follows:
PART ONE[edit]
Kinship as a System[edit]
Elements of Kinship[edit]
Diagramming Kinship Ties[edit]
Abbreviations in Kinship[edit]
American Kinship[edit]
Other Kinship Systems[edit]
American and Other Marriage Systems[edit]
Kinship Classifications[edit]
Cousin Relations[edit]
Unilineal Descent[edit]
The Lineage[edit]
Characteristics of the Lineage and Clan[edit]
Kinship Systems in Unilineal Socieites[edit]
The Crow Kinship System[edit]
Behavior and Crow Terminology[edit]
The Omaha Kinship System[edit]
The Causes of Crow and Omaha Terminology[edit]
Review of Classification by Cousin Terminology[edit]
PART TWO[edit]
Collecting Kinship Terms[edit]
The Analysis of Meaning in Terminology[edit]
Behavior and Kinship[edit]
Marriage and Kinship[edit]
Cousin Marriages[edit]
Unilateral Cross Cousin Marriage[edit]
Sections and Subsections[edit]
Residence Groups[edit]
Kin Based Groups[edit]
The Clan[edit]
Phratry and Moiety[edit]


KEESING, Roger M (1975) Kin Groups and Social Structure. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers. Fort Worth


BARNES, J.A. (1980) "Kinship Studies". Man

"Barnes suggests that ..[the]] development of functionally orientated approaches produced a rupture in kinship studies, reducing kinship .. to an aspect of other topics, while technical kinship studies continued to develop .. in isolation from other areas of anthropological theory" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bruceanthro (talkcontribs) 14:10, 5 February 2008 (UTC)


STRATHERN, Marilyn (1992) After Nature: English Kinship in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

"The central point of Strathern's arguement is that nature can no longer be taken for granted in the late twentieth-century English culture .. the effects of technological developments - particularly new reproductive technologies .. have resulted in a destabilistation of nature .." (Carsten 2000: 9)
"As Strathern .. makes clear, the significant shift is that what was taken to be natural has become a matter for choice .. The more nature is assisted by technology,and the more social recognition of parenthood is circumscribed by legislation, the more difficult it becomes to think of nature as independent of social intervention (Strathern 1992:87). It follows from this that knowledge itself, which previously was seen as a 'direct reflection of nature' .. no longer has such a grounding in nature.."(Carsten 2000: 10)
"Kinship has a critical role in these shifts in knowledge practices pecisely because, in the English view, kinship is defined as being the meeting place of nature and culture (Strathern 1992: 87) Kinship facts can be seen as simultaneously part of nature and part of culture. Kinship performed a kind of dual function - it was based on a nature that was itself regardeded as the grounding for culture,and it also provided an image of the relation between culture and nature (Strathern 1992: 198)" (Carsten 2000: 10)

Bruceanthro (talk) 08:02, 1 February 2008 (UTC)


SCHNEIDER, D.M as told to HANDLER, Richard (Ed) (1995) Schneider on Schneider: The Conversion of Jews and other Anthropological Stories Duke University Press. Durham, NC.

From the 1970's the position of kinship as a field of study within anthropology has been under question. In Schneider's view, the shift away from kinship was part of a ground shift in anthropological understanding from structure to practice, and from practice to discourse... this recasting occurred alongside what Schneider termed a 'democratisation of the intellectual enterprise' (1995: 197) in which concerns about social justice, from feminism and the civil rights movement, were crucial
Schneider noted that, perhaps surprisingly, kinship in the 1990's has 'risen from the ashes' (1995: 193) .. a fact he attributed to ..Marilyn Strathern's After Nature (1992).


SIMPSON, Bob (1998) Changing Families: An Ethnographic Approach to Divorce and Separation


SUTTON, Peter (1998) "Kinship, Descent and Aboriginal land tenure". SUTTON, Peter (Ed) Native Title and the Descent of Rights. National Native Title Tribunal. Perth. ISBN 0-642-36505-9.

Contents page of kinship etc section of this book, written to assist peoples involved in 'native title' cases before the Australian courts, reads as follows -
The Kinship polity[edit]
Was kinship the polity?[edit]
Basic Conventions and Terminology[edit]
Visual symbols[edit]
Kin term semantics[edit]
Actual and classificatory kin[edit]
Primary and extended meanings[edit]
Ego and propositus[edit]
Technical Terminology ..[edit]
Parentage and gender[edit]
Complementary filiation[edit]
Mother's side, father's side[edit]
Parrallel v cross kin and marriage[edit]
Matriliny v matrfiliation[edit]
Direct matrifilial classes[edit]
Indirect matrifilial classes[edit]
..Cognatic descent groups[edit]
Surname groups[edit]
Blood and bloodlines[edit]
Freedom and choice[edit]
The basic transformation[edit]

Bruceanthro (talk) 08:35, 4 February 2008 (UTC)


CARSTEN, Janet (2000) "Introduction to cultures of relatedness" in CARSTEN, Janet (Ed) Cultures of Relatedness: New Approaches to the Study of Kinship Cambridge University Ptess. Cambridge. Pages 1 - 36

Post 1970's .. social stability was no longer the central issue in anthropology ,, and in one way or another the study of kinship (whether in evolutionary, functionalist, or structuralist quise) - had been bound up with explanations of social stability
..there is no doubt that the 'new kinship' (reborn in the 1990's) looks rather different from it's old-style forebears. It has become more standard in works on kinship forgender, body and personhood to feature prominently in the analysis ,, while relationship terminologies are barely referred to, and kinship diagrams barely make an appearance. (2000: page 3) Bruceanthro (talk) 13:55, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
"The authors in this volume describe relatedness in terms in terms of indigenous statements and practices - some of which may seem to fall quite outside of what anthropologists have conventionally understood as kinship" (p3). Use of the term "relatedness" to move away from assumptions about what is biological and what is social. Robotforaday (talk) 03:23, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Commentary on Growing Annotated Chronology/"Kinship Article"[edit]

(Bruceanthro (talk) 15:04, 24 January 2008 (UTC))

'tis a good idea to get started. I've thought through what else should be in the above list, and Evans-Pritchard and Levi-Strauss are foundational for the topic, Fox is the best overview of I know, and then Strathern and Simpson at the end will give us an insight into more recent developments... which should be more than enough to be getting on with, unless we've missed something important out?

Levi-Strauss, Claude (1949) The Elementary Structures of Kinship

Evans-Pritchard, E.E. (1951) Kinship and Marriage among the Nuer

Fox, Robin (1967) Kinship and Marriage

Strathern, Marilyn (1992) After Nature: English kinship in the late twentieth century

Simpson, Bob (1998) Changing Families: An Ethnographic Approach to Divorce and Separation

Robotforaday (talk) 00:37, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanx Robotforaday, I was literally going through Robin Fox .. and had included Levi-Strauss in the list .. when you made the above edit. If you don't mind, I'll include the writings in their chronological order/place in the list started above the hope of then progressing through the list making annotations (from which to build the article!?).
As an aside, I recall you saying illustrations might be good .. and I see that quite some time ago (in 2004) User:Maclyn611 seems to have prepared graphics/kinship diagrams for Crow kinship, Eskimo kinship, Hawaiian kinship etc ... It seems this editor may still be active and may be asked/recruited to assist with gaphics/diagrams for this article? Bruceanthro (talk) 14:38, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good, if you get no response, I'll have a go at making them myself once we know what it is that we want. Feel free to add those to your list, and I've wikilinked Schneider to his appropriate article. I will try and get hold of a couple of these texts today. Robotforaday (talk) 15:12, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Early Proposed Narrative Approach/Article Structure?[edit]

May soon (next day or so) have a go at an initial proposed structure for upgraded and amended kinship article, arranging article and presenting various dimensions of the kinship concept 'historically' (ie as far as practical, in order in which each dimension was focused on/elaborated upon by writers above)..

EG (for initial comment/discussion)

  • New Introduction - quoting anthropological dictionaries etc describing 'kinship' concerns to the whole of humanity, deeply embedded in the daily conduct of all of our lives ..
  • Dimension: - Comparing and Contrasting Human Societies (from early ethnology, to Morgan's terminology classigications, to River's classic methodologies, to Radcliffe Brown's comparisons, to Goodenough etc 'compenential analysis' etc) ..
((possibly with link, within section, to a more expanisive genealogical methods article? introducing all the symbols, techniques etc used by anthropologists??))
  • Dimension: - Sexual Reproduction and Marriage (from McLennan's 'bride captures/abductions - through Levi-Strauss's Alliance theories etc) to Strathern's 'biological technologies';
  • Dimension: - Social Rules (from Maine's "Ancient Laws - through Morgan's 'systems of Consanguinity etc .. through Levi-Strauss .. all the way through to Sutton's 'Native Title');
  • Dimension: - Social Structures (from Tylor's "adhesions" through to Radcliffe-Brown's "social structures")
  • Dimension: - Social Relationships (including Schneider's cultural relativism, through Strathern, to Carsten's 'Relatedness')

In the annotated chronology above, I've included some 'cotents lists' of some general texts .. not only to make notes, but also to use as a kind of checklist with which to tick off dimensions covered (or missed?)

In the mean time, I'll quote some of the following summary/overview material from SEYMOUR-SMITH, Charlotte (1986) MacMillan Dictionary of Anthropology. MacMillan Press Ltd. London entries on kinship etc:

"The importance of kinship studies .. is due in large part to the great importance attached to kinship relations in the societies typically studied by anthropologists. It has frequently been noted that the significance of kinship in pre-industrial society is more far reaching and systematic than in modern industrial society. Thus it is often stated that kinship (and/or marriage alliance, which is .. included under the general rubric of kinship) constitutes the basic organizational principle of a pre-industrial or small-scale society. In many such socieites the universe of kin and affines is the universe of significant social relationships, all persons who enter into relationship with Ego being defined in terms of some kinship status, whether or not their exact relationship to Ego is known."(Page 158)

I think the structure you're discussing there has a lot of merit. Very briefly, in my mind before I read this, I was thinking of something along these lines (after a new lead para; those who haven't already should see WP:LEAD for guidelines on that sort of thing):

  • Kinship and biological relationships (usefulness of the pater/genitor distinction, kinship relations not necessarily dependent on physiology, the cultural specific nature of placing an emphasis on biology/ 'blood', "relatedness").
  • Family and lineage - importance of kinship relations for human identity, kinship as a means of social cohesion and conflict (e.g. could discuss segmentary kinship) role of lineages and descent in determining inheritance of property, title, etc. Would include brief overview of matrilineage/ patrilineage etc., with a link to a seperate article which would go into descent in more detail. Emergence of/ challenges to the nuclear family.
  • Marriage and reproduction - incest taboo, marriage and the establishment and maintainance of social relationships, endogamy/ exogamy, discussion of alliance theory.

As I say, I had this in mind before reading yours, so it's certainly open to radical correction. All I'd say is that our primary concern should be acessibility, and we should make sure that people who read the kinship article don't need to be hugely familiar with the history of anthropological theory when reading it. With that in mind, I would want to make sure that the section follow thematic lines rather than reproducing disciplinary debates. Robotforaday (talk) 12:51, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes .. there certainly SHOULD be a section covering the "Kinship and biological relationships" aspect of kinship .. the overlap/disjunction between kinship & human biology seeming to be one of socio-cultural anthropologist's key insights worked on over the LAST two or three decades
Yes .. the article/narrative MUST also be as accessible, and easy reading as possible .. though we should perhaps also aim to be as succinctly comprehensive as possible .. to provide the most useful starting point for any readers/users first exploring an idea that has been the subject of such intensive anthropological endeavour over > 150 years
Like you, I do NOT think this article/the narrative should simply reproduce the disciplinary debates of the past .. RATHER my key concern is to make the accumulation of anthropology's key insights and understandings on 'kinship' visible and available to Wikipedia readers/users ....
I am not totally committed to the 'headings' I've suggested above .. but I am aiming/hoping to be able to systematically arrange a relatively comprehensive overview accumulated insights .. in close compliance with Wikipedia verifiability standards/practices (ie citing each/all identified 'insights'?!) ..
I note that some of the detail of some of the more technical aspects of kinship nomenclature, terminological typologies; genealogical methods etc either already have their own article pages (eg kinship terminologies and lineage) .. or might best be more fully developed within their own article page??
Finally .. I see that in your own thinking .. you place "kinship and biological relations" first ..Since this is the feild of the latest (most recent) accumulation of anthropological/sociological insight .. perhaps, my above proposed 'historically' arranged ellaboration of themes/dimensions of insights can be amended/recategorised .. and instead arranged (rearranged) from most recent/latest insight to oldest/earliest?? Bruceanthro (talk) 22:28, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
I am very much in line with what you say about being "succinctly comprehensive" (easier said than done!). And you're absolutely right about the importance of referencing - which is why it was such a good idea to start the annotated bibliography above, so thank you for that. With regards to the section headings I proposed (and I have no especial emotional attachment to them!), you are quite right that some of terms I use there are covered in other articles - but I do not see this as a particular problem. As I see it, it is important to cover as many aspects of kinship in summary as we can in this article, and then allow for more specific articles which go into a particular aspect in more depth. So, for example, I think that this article must include an overview of descent, because descent is an important aspect of kinship studies; however, we should have a seperate specific article for descent where we can go into more detail about that topic. Similarly, we have to mention the nuclear family, marriage etc. in this article - but always remembering that this is an overview of the topic, and that there are articles elsewhere where those concepts can be developed on their own. The usual practice in this case is to have a "Main article" tag under the section heading. So, if you look for example at the article on Gibraltar, you can see there's a section on "Transport" with a main article tag to a seperate article "Transport in Gibraltar" which goes into that topic in more depth. So applying that principle to this article, I would say there's nothing wrong with our having a brief section which focuses on Descent, for example, with a tag undeneath the section heading saying "Main article: Descent".
With regards to your last point, the "kinship and biological relations" section, I am not too tied up about where this should go. My reasoning in putting it first was because I feel it is the most immediate point of interest for laymen, but I can't really prove 100% that that's true! You are right to note that this has been the focus of recent interest, but I should perhaps add that what I had in mind for that section was discuss Malinowski and his observations about denial of physiological paternity, Evans-Pritchard and Radcliffe-Brown's use of the "pater" and "genitor" distinction, and so on, before going on to the more recent debates.
And before I forget, I must add thanks to User:Douglas R. White for getting us started!Robotforaday (talk) 11:55, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Kinship and descent[edit]

What is the basis for claiming that "kinship and descent" is specifically "cultural anthropology?" My recollection is that the first major paper on descent groups was by Fortes, a social anthropologist. I agree that the attention to descent groups gained purchase in the US - Fried wrote an early important paper about them - but that coincided with a period when British structural-functionalism was also gaining purchase in the US and I don't think that the main literature on descent groups is really "cultural" anthropology, it is at best "socio-cultural anthropology." I think the "cultural anthropology" tradition has, starting with te Boasian move away from Morgan (when Franz Boas moved away from the word "clan" and began writing about the different meanings of "numaym" and then Lowie critiqued Morgan directly) always emphasized that kinship terminologies exist in the realm of language and not social groups (Schneider, Lounsbury). The only American anthropologists I know of who try to relate kinship to "descent" as such are those influenced by sociobiology like Robin Fox. Don't most cultural anthropologists see a clear distinction between kinship terminologies and descent groups? Maybe this article needs to distinguish between "system of consanguinity" and "descent group" as they are not identical. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:49, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Hello. I'm not sure where the claim is made that kinship and descent is specifically cultural anthropology - however as major changes are being made to the article, it's possible a comment to that effect was there earlier today, and is no longer there! As a British anthropologist, I absolutely agree with what you're saying, and I intend to begin making some additions tomorrow detailing some of the "social anthropological" contributions. Anyway, as you can see this article is currently a work in progress, so feel free to jump in and work on it if you see specific misrepresentations which you feel should be remedied. Also, as you can see above, we are trying to work out what structure this article should follow, so please do suggest structures which would avoid conflating concepts which ought to be teased out individually. Robotforaday (talk) 23:33, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

I think a recent edit took care of this specific concern. Now, since you asked for it:

Rubenstein's proposal for organization[edit]

1. Introduction

  • kinship as object of study versus kinship as analytic model
  • metatheoretical issues:
  • biology versus culture (sociobiology versus anthropology)
  • "family" as a culture-bound concept that anthropologists disaggregate into a variety of social groups, structures, and practices ....
  • Models: informants' models versus anthropologists' models
  • norms and rules: descriptive versus prescriptive
  • Kinship as an object of study
  • culture
  • social structure
  • status, role, groups, and institutions
  • social organization
  • Kinship as an analytical model: major theoretical approaches to the study of kinship
  • evolutionary (Morgan)
  • functionalist (Malinowski)
  • structuralist (Durkheim via Radcliffe Brown, Durkheim via Levi Strauss)
  • marxist (Siskind, Godelier and Meillasoux, Wolf)
emphasize that these different approaches are embedded in different notions of what anthropology is, and ask different questions

2. Kinship as a cultural system: kinship terminology

  • concepts used in describing models of terminologies
  • descriptive or classificatory
  • collateral or lineal
  • consanguinal or affinal
  • cross-cousins or parallel cousins
  • patrilaterla vs. matrilateral
  • Kinship Terminologies
  • Sudanese
  • Hawaiian
  • Eskimo
  • Iroquois
  • Dravidian
  • Crow
  • Omaha

3. Kinship and Social Organization

  • networks: kindred

4. Kinship and social structure I: The Household

  • types
  • matrifocal
  • conjugal families
  • consanguineal
  • individual life-cycle
  • family of orientation
  • family of procreation
  • household life-sycle (Post-Marital Residencee Rules)
  • patrilocal (also called virilocal): with or near the husband's family
  • matrilocal (also called uxorilocal): with or near the wife's family
  • neolocal
  • Ambilocal

5. Kinship and Social Structure II: Descent groups

  • Clans
  • Lineage
  • Phratry
  • Moeiety
  • unilineal descent
  • patrilineages (sometimes also called "agnatic")
  • matrilineages (cognatic)
  • ambilineal descent
  • double descent
  • Segmentary Lineage Systems

6. Kinship and social structure III: Marriage = the socially sanctioned union that reproduces the family. The most common type of marriage is the union of one or more men with one or more women.

  • Types of marriages
  • Monogamy
  • Polygamy
  • Polygyny
  • Polyandry
  • levirate
  • sororate
  • Marriage and exchange
  • bride-service
  • bride-price
  • dowry

After going throught these basic concepts it may be timely to return to current theoretical debates among anthropologists.

Well, anyway, just one way of organizing it. I like much of what others have posted and certainly hope to think what I propose can accommodate alomost if not all of the content you and others have been working with recently. Slrubenstein | Talk 00:07, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

I like your structure. In particular, I think it includes and focuses on something which I had somewhat overlooked in my own suggestion, which is the household. So I would definitely say express strong support for the section headings 4-6 (Household, Descent, Marriage). With regards to the other sections, if you could clarify what you feel would go in section 3, that would be helpful, as "networks: kindred" could (to use a favoured expression of my informants) cover a multitude of sins ;) I also support section 2, kinship terminology. Section 1, while laudable in its goals, is perhaps the most tricky to carry off. I would suggest (as above) that it is important for us to have a specific section on kinship and biological relationships, which would not just cover the "biology vs culture" debate, but also the more discussions that have occurred since the early 20th century within social anthropology as to the relationship between social and biological assumptions about kinship (Malinowski on the Trobriand denial of paternity, use of the terms pater/genitor etc.); this could then move onto more recent debates (Schneider, Strathern, 'relatedness' etc.) If I may, I would like to start writing a section later today indicating what I mean. With regards to the rest of the material you include in section 1, i.e. the different theoretical models, as distinct approaches within anthropology, I wonder if this could be fruitfully adapted as a development of the the section that Douglas R. White has already started, "History of Kinship studies"? So, just to summarise, what I am suggesting would be the following adaptation from the structure you propose:
1. History of kinship studies, 2. Kinship and biological relationships, 3. Kinship terminology, 4. Household, 5. Descent, 6. Marriage. Robotforaday (talk) 06:13, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. Conncerning "kindred," what are the "multitude of sins?" I just think that kindrid is an important concept to discuss, as well as the ways network analysis can be used to map out relationships. As to your proposal, I have two problems qith 1 and 2. First, I have mixed feelings about a history section. On the one hand, I am all for historicizing the presentation of academic topics i.e. putting them in a historical context. On the other hand, histories are themselves partial and often too linear, and distort the kind of history a geneaology (in the Foucauldian/Nietzchian sense) would provide. I also have qualms about a separatre section on kinship and biology - this is an issue from the very start, it is an issue for HRR RIvers and Levi Strauss, so how could it go after the history section? I think we need to disinguish between the general relationship between society/culture and biology - which has been handled in diferent ways by functionalists, structuralists, and marxists, and a more narrow debate between disciplines of anthropology and sociobilogy. These doubts I have about your sections 1 and 2 explain my section 1. I agree, it covers a lot and perhaps can be improved on but I think that as much as people need a historical context they ned a theoretical context and need to understand that even today anthropologists do not all look at kindhip the same way - some still work largely within a functionalist mode, some structuralist, some arxist. I wanted an "introduction" which both introduced key concepts in the study of society and culture that anyone new to anthropology needs to understand first if they are to understand any of this (I admire what Douglas White is adding but it is at a high level a general audience wouldn't understand), and second, provide a "metatheoretical" context that makes the history intelligible. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:04, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

While I understand your concerns about a historical section, I do wonder if that's a matter of presentation. Sure, histories can appear linear, but they can also be made to appear cumulative, cyclical, wiggly, etc. To be honest, it's all about how it's written, and I think if we put in the effort we can write it in a way that doesn't create the distorting effect you fear. But maybe I'm being naive! (its worth noting that Foucauldian geneologies have their own distorting effect, but let's leave that debate for another time!) Also the only reason I flagged up the "kindred" issue is because I was unclear on the context in which you were using the term, and what you actually hoped would be included in that section, especially as you had gone into very useful detail about the other sections. Robotforaday (talk) 10:19, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Well, I think kindred is an important term. Also, it does not refer to a social group, and I am not sure it is even a clear status position. Network analysis shows how apparently clear structural relationships can actually be very fluid once one takes individual action (or agency) into account, as well as contingent factors, which is why I personally identify it with social organization. That said, i welcome other people's ideas. As for my section 1 and your sections 1 and 2 I do nthink this is largely a matter of presentation. Do you see your sections 1 and 2 as including all the content I have in my section 1? i certainly think my section 1 can accommodate most of what you put in your sections 1 and 2 (and I am sure that anything left out can find a place somewhere else in the article) so I do think it is about presentation. Please note that my list of major theoretical approaches is vaguely historical ... I just focus on what I think are the amin streams, and exclude most of the people Bruceanthro listed above (which frankly I think is too much detail for this article ... But perfect for a separate article on the history (or genealology!) of kinship theory!!) I bet we can work out a hybrid or compromise. At this point I suggest you and I pause for a whileand give Bruceanthro and Douglas White think before you and I comment further... Slrubenstein | Talk 10:26, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Absolutely, let's wait for what others say on this. I think the similarities in what we envisage far outweigh the dissimilarities - it's just in some ways its quite hard to envisage what sections will look like and how they'll fit together while we're only talking about them in abstract terms. Later today I'll start writing some prose, although once people have decided on a structure, whatever I've written can be pushed around, cut, expanded, and all of the various things that happen to stuff you write in a wikipedia article. As for the bibliography above, I don't necessarily know if the idea was to include and detail all of these things in the article. That wasn't really how I saw it, at least - for me, the usefulness of the exercise was (re)acquainting myself with the various streams of thought and helping us to think about which of these things needed to be included. As I admit to sometimes having staggering moments of blindness, I was glad to remind myself of the things that were important outside of my own immediate (British social anthropological) concerns. Robotforaday (talk) 10:40, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
Following on from what I've said above, I have started a new section on Kinship and biological relationships, covering the Trobriand case and the usefulness of the pater/ genitor distinction. I intend to expand it with a discussion of fictive kinship, Schneider, and 'relatedness', however I need to go out now, and it may be better to await further discussion before I build up the section too much - as it is, I am (of course) happy for the material I've written so to be moved into a different section depending on the structure we choose. Robotforaday (talk) 14:46, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
Rubenstein's proposed structure has some immediate appeal. In particular the suggested division of the article into 1. 'kinship' as 'object of study' and 2. kinship as 'analytical tool' has some intuitive appeal .. whereby the actual subject matter captured by the concept is clearly defined and described (first); then the grander/more significant implications, ramifications or connotations for our understanding of humankind are revealed and expanded upon!!
I suggest perhaps Rubenstein might 'restructure' and re-arrange the current article (without loosing any of it's content) under the relevant headings (as outlined), and then we all try to place key anthropological insights/content we wish to elaborate upon into the new/amended structure .. and see how it all fits/pans out .. amending it as required .. always trying to be succinctly comprehensive?
Just as RobotforaDay has started to elaborate on key insights regarding the overlap/disjunction of kinship and human biology (which might best fit under '1. kinship - object of study?) .. I myself would be keen to start elaborating on kinship as a taxonomic/typological tool for comparing diverse groups/peoples (which might best fit under 2. kinship - analytical tool?!)
Otherwise .. to be perfectly frank, while I have used the genealogical method within my own practice, as part of my own 'anthropological' toolkit .. I had not until now really paid much attention to the origins of that method (and associated theory) ..nor the many purposes to which the method has been put .. nor the anthropological stream (kinship) from which it emerged !!
I find I have, in my practice as an anthropologist, effectively inherited a method, and practice, and a body of terms and theories from my/our own anthropological forebears .. much of which has been distilled down to me/us through >100 years of anthropological experience, insight and discovery .. most of which I have been unquestioningly applying!!
The annotated bibliography I initiated above was my own attempt to 'track' back the accumulation of insights and practices I've/we've inherited .. properly identifying and attributing each accumulating, key insight/s back to the appropriate forebear/s . It was NOT intended to be used in a history of kinship .. but rather as a method:
  1. to better familiarise myself (and anyone else interested) with the subject matter
  2. to systematically and comprehensively identify some of the key moments/insights within kinship (tracking developments through authors/time), and
  3. to properly attribute each and all of the accumulated insights I/we have inherited from our forebears .. in a manner wholly consistent with the very best of Wikipedia's citation/verifiability policies and practces.. for all future readers/users future benefit.
I'm now simply glad to there are four of us collaborating and assisting, all the others of whom seem to have greater familiarity with the subject/object than I!!
I will, for my own benefit (and anyone else who may be interested) fill in a little more of the gaps in the annotated bibliography above .. then try to fit in a 'methodological' stream into the structure [1] .. then use the bibliography as a kind of 'checklist' to run against the article identifying any other moments/insights that may have been missed/may not fit?!
So what do those who are watching reckon? SLRubenstein .. are you able and do you want to do the re-structure (being careful not to loose any of DougWhite's history/material)?? Bruceanthro (talk) 17:45, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
I would be very happy to see movement in that direction; I would like to have a go writing on the household, descent, etc., once I can see where in the article to put it. By the way, I'd just like to thank you for starting the initiative of the bibliography, I really enjoyed thinking through those materials and really taking the opportunity to think about the lineage of kinship theories and what this anthropological tradition that we work within actually is. As a result, I have revisited classical literature that I would otherwise have overlooked. Robotforaday (talk) 18:15, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
This organizational scheme looks pretty sound. If I might add a couple small suggestions– section 2 lists a number of kinship terminologies (e.g. Dravidian). Perhaps these would be better described as patterns or types of kinship terminologies? Secondly, it seems to me that a number of theoretical concepts and issues related to the analysis of kinship terminologies deserve inclusion (or at least mention) here, e.g. other approaches to the analysis of terminologies- algebraic approach (D. Read), componential analysis (W. Goodenough), etc. Occamserasure (talk) 08:05, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

Appropriate illustrations for this article?[edit]

Although writing is clearly the obvious priority, perhaps it would be a good idea for us to note down any appropriate illustrations for this article that we can think of? I think kinship diagrams would be a great help, and I am happy to have a go at creating some, as long as we have an idea of what we want. Just to get the ball rolling, I would suggest the following; feel free to list other useful diagrams that you can think of, or indeed to object to these ones!

  • Patrilineage
  • Matrilineage
  • Segmentary descent

Also, does anybody have any ideas about good photographs, paintings, etc, that could be used? My only idea so far would be an image of the table of kindred and affinity from the Book of Common Prayer. Robotforaday (talk) 18:15, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Not really sure what the suggested table looks like .. but, sure, go ahead.
Also, maybe (not sure I'm serious), when I myself was thinking/searching for possible real world photos (a picture is worth a thousand words) that might effectively allude, capture and display 'kinship' in action .. I found:
1. a photo of the British royal family


(surely royalty, and the royal family is a most recognisable instancing of family .. plus all the associated kin/ship ramifications?!!)

2. an early 1914 photo of an Iroquois 'tribe'

here ..

[the Iroquois being both the group that famously inspired Morgan to examine, compare and contrast kinship terminologies .. and visually displaying the primary subject matter of 'kinship', and kinship studies?

Just some suggestions?!! Bruceanthro (talk) 13:56, 11 February 2008 (UTC)
I like these suggestions! Unsure where exactly within the proposed structure the royal family picture should go, but I think it's worth including somewhere. When there is some text on kinship terminologies in the article, it would be worth putting that Iroquois photo there. However, I do not feel like the best person to start writing any text on kinship terminologies; perhaps you would like to have a go? Robotforaday (talk) 13:02, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Recent edits to references[edit]

User:SummerWithMorons has recently been editing the references to a fixed style, and while I felt he was going too far from the guidelines in WP:CITE, I suppose in fairness we do need to have a discussion about what kind of referencing to use; from my involvement in wikipedia, it seems there's a strong bias towards the style of referencing I have used in kinship and biological relationships section, including the use of Wikipedia:Citation templates, so my preference would be to follow use the citation templates for consistency with much of the rest of wikipedia, although I am happy to go along with consensus on this. Also, User:SummerWithMorons changed a couple of the page number references; the page numbers I used were from the original 1929 Routledge and Kegan Paul edition that I cited, and I have now double checked them so as to revert them. It is possible that he is using a later edition; however, I am confident that the page numbering I have provided is the page numbering in the original.

I plan on working some more on the article today. Robotforaday (talk) 12:24, 16 February 2008 (UTC)


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]] ==

Ethnicity link[edit]

I personally don't see a problem whatsoever with including it under "See Also" since the ethnicity and kinship articles are clearly pertinent to each other. By including ethnicity, you're not saying Kinship and Descent is obligate to all ethnic identities, only that for more information on a concept that can involve or be related to Kinship, see ethnicity. What else is at issue ? Epf (talk) 22:37, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Well, Monarchy, Succession and many others also are likely to be connected to kinship, but you don't see them in the See also section? Ethnicity isn't necessarily connected to kinship, so it shouldn't be in the list.--Ramdrake (talk) 23:29, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Not necessarily connected to kinship, but often is or can be. The information in the ethnicity article contains aspects which are useful or related to kinship and vice versa. This is also clearly more the case than with Monarchy or Succession. Considering one line in this article states: "Kinship is one of the most basic principles for organizing individuals into social groups, roles, and categories", which also can be said of ethnicity, clearly the articles are pertinent to each other. Epf (talk) 17:29, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
Ethnicity is one of the most basic principles for organizing individuals into social groups, roles and categories? I don't think so. Maybe we should wait and see if smeone wants to offer a third opinion.--Ramdrake (talk) 18:02, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
  • No, I said kinship, not ethnicity, is one of the most basic principles for organizing individuals into socia lgroups, etc. Read more carefully. Epf (talk) 20:32, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
The status of kinship is much debated by anthropologists, and the term means many things; David Schneider argued that it is largely a Western concept; Janet Siskind and Karen Sacks thought it an objective way of characterizing social relations in non-state societies. Most anthropologists today view ethnicity in the modern sense as somehing that comes into existence in relation either to the capitalist economy or contact with states. The dominant view aong anthropologists is that non-state societies have no notion of ethnic identity, indeed the question of whether non-state people have clear social boundaries is also highly contested. So I know of no anthropologist who would say that ethnicity is aven a basic, let alone "most basic" way of organizing people into groups, roles or categories. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:03, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

"Most anthropologists today view ethnicity in the modern sense as somehing that comes into existence in relation either to the capitalist economy or contact with states."

I've read that some view ethnicity in such a way but clearly this is not the case for others. Many have simply viewed ethnicity as a different definition from tribe that encompasses some different aspects (this isexplained in detail in an article by Ronald Cohen). Aspects of tribal identification have been incorporated into ethnicity. Kinship and descent are clearly core factors in the basis of many ethnic identities. The dominant view is not that non-state societies "have no notion of ethnicity" and there is nothing to support such a claim. There are numerous ethnic groups around the world who have no official nation-state or political entity, but still have an ethnic and cultural identity. The whole emergence of many nation-states developed from ethnic groups who had no unified political entity, not the other way around. Some groups who do not use the western label "ethnic" (i.e. those not in contact with western society) however still use a synonym for it or "tribe". Few also actually contest that non-state people have clear social boundaries, especially since there have long been linguistic and cultural groupings which used terms that pre-date the modern use of "ethnic", such as "tribe", "race", "kin", or "clan". The word ethnic itself derives from "ethnos", literally meaning "people" in ancient Greek. Epf (talk) 20:32, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

"The whole emergence of many nation-states developed from ethnic groups who had no unified political entity, not the other way around." You are saying that this is the mainstream view among anthropologists today? Source? Slrubenstein | Talk 21:05, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
"there have long been linguistic and cultural groupings which used terms that pre-date the modern use of "ethnic", such as "tribe", "race", "kin", or "clan"," which, you further contend, have clear social boundaries and do not existi in contact or in relation to a state. Okay, sources please. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:14, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
  • I do not have sources off hand right now, but the evolution from tribe to ethnicity is mentioned in detail in that article from 1978 by Ronald Cohen. I do not have sources about the "mainstream view" apart form those which can be found on the ethnic group article, but read the history of specific modern nation states and varying aspects of nationalism itself. You don't seriously disagree do you ? As for pre-dating modern, western terms like "ethnic", clearly there were distinct states, cultures, tribes, languages and nations of people in the Americas for example or elsewhere before contact with Western society. In any case, kinship and moreso descent, are still clearly a major role in most ethnicities (according to Cohen, Smith, Barth and Wells amongst others). Epf (talk) 21:37, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
  • This discussion is starting to veer away from the core issue. Please explain any justifiable reason for not including ethnicity and tribe under "See Also". Both of these articles contain information that is clearly pertinent to this article and vice versa. Kinship and descent is very much involved in the basis for tribes and ethnic groups as is mentioned in those articles as well as this one. Epf (talk) 22:07, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Slrubenstein has already raised two issues with your affirmations:
:"The whole emergence of many nation-states developed from ethnic groups who had no unified political entity, not the other way around." You are saying that this is the mainstream view among anthropologists today? Source? Slrubenstein | Talk 21:05, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
  • I was discussing a related issue with Rubenstein, but I already mentioned sources to read up on, specifically those which are found in the ethnic group and nation artcles. This still has nothing to do with the inclusion of ethnicity and tribe in this article. Epf (talk) 22:47, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
"there have long been linguistic and cultural groupings which used terms that pre-date the modern use of "ethnic", such as "tribe", "race", "kin", or "clan"," which, you further contend, have clear social boundaries and do not existi in contact or in relation to a state. Okay, sources please. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:14, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

No, that was not my wording and you misrepresent what was actually said. "Kinship is one of the most basic principles for organizing individuals into social groups, roles, and categories" - this is what is mentioned in this article. Kinship, but specifically descent, are clearly major factors in ethnic and tribal identification. My whole point of adding ethnicity as a link in this article was to show this point since the information in that article alludes to this just as it does in tribe. Epf (talk) 22:47, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

Epf, you need to stop ignoring requests for sourcing of your affirmations. As it stands, just repeating your POV really doesn't cut it--Ramdrake (talk) 22:14, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

No, its not simply POV since this is about including a related article based on the information and sources in that article (ethnicity). Epf (talk) 22:47, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

It continues to be about Epf's misrepresentation of anthropology to push his own POV. The Ronald Cohen article is, while dated, important. He does point out that many people use "tribe" and "ethnic group" interchangable - well, we know this, Epf is just the kind of person Cohen was referring to. But Cohen is critical of this. Cohen has two basic points in this regard. First, some people employ a double standard, and use the word "tribe" to refer to groups outside the West and "ethnic group" within the west, when the different groups have the same features and ought to be described using the same word. Second, that the tribes and ethnic groups hich people mix up are all products of colonialism or contact with states or markets. Cohen, like most anthropologists, thinks the term and body of theory surrounding ethnicity is a better way to analyze these things. In other words, insofar as the two words are interchangable, they both refer to, as I said, entities in contact with states or capitalism, NOT as an evolutionary stage in the formation of states (what Epf is claiming); Morton Fried suggested distinguishing between primary and secondary tribes, only the first of which exist prior to states and are salient to social evolution; most tribes he argues, are secondary and products of colonail encounters or some other encounter with a state. Cohen sums all this up quite nicely on pages 383-384. It is not, as Epf claims, that "Aspects of tribal identification have been incorporated into ethnicity," it is that we now see that what ome people have been calling tribes really have aspects of ethnic groups and should be called ethnic groups, not tribes. It is true that Max Weber (a sociologist, not anthropologist, working on the basis of his own theoretical model and not good ethnographic data at a time when there was apaucity of good ethnographic data) defined ethnic groups in terms of diffuse kin relations. But Cohen's point is that this view is outdated and wrong, and he srgues on page 390 that this has been found only among hunting and camp groups - what cultural evolutionists would call the lowest stages of cultural evolution.
There are two different issues here, that Cohen is reflecting on. The first is descriptive: one can call any group of people with some distinct social or cultural identity an "ethnic group" and thus say that all human beings belong to one ethnic group or another. This seems to be Epf's view. If one takes this view, however, one must immediately stop using generalized definitions of ethnicity. Cohen's point about hunters and camp groups is that the kinship feature of Weber's ethnicity is salient only in a handful of very small social groups. If "ethnicity" simply means a named people, then there are practically no universal definitions of ethnic groups. The alternative, which is the one used by most anthropologists, is to define ethnic group more narrowly, and of course it then applies to a much smaller range of social groups. Epf just doesn't undertand it, because his bias to find what he is looking for is greater than his ability to learn something new. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:46, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Also, when Cohen talks about the salience for kinship for hunting and camping groups, Epf makes a huge mistake to think that this is an example of ethnicity depending on decent. "Kinship" refers to many things and in this case Cohen is refering to kinship terminologies, referential systems that are typically unaccompanied by geneaologies (Joanna Overing even argued that in most such societies - she posits all societies in Amazonia; Robert Murhy independently reached the same conclusion - "sociological time" (the remembered experience an individual has of relations with other individuals) dominates against geneological time (an individual remember who his or her grandparents or great grandparents are) Slrubenstein | Talk 12:00, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

In the meantime, he made two basic assertions above and I have asked for sources. I am still waiting. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:46, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

  • I do not have the time right now to go into a more detailed response, but you greatly twisted the Cohen article and made some unfounded assumptions about his conclusions. Kinship terminologies clearly include the aspect of descent, something Cohen emphasizes himself in the article. Your response again also has an aura of personal insult and I have no bias here, but I can't wait to further this response to show your obvious (and quite unfounded) bias in this matter against descent in both tribal and ethnic identities. Cohen goes into specific details about the differences between "tribe" and "ethnic group" but never ignores the importance of descent to both. Kinship systems include both those that are genealogical and those which are not (eg. based on marriage). Remember that "descent groups" are included under the kinship article and this aspect of identification found in both tribal and ethnic groups, is again clearly emphasized throughout the Cohen article. As for the assertions I made above about how ethnicity contributed to the evolution of various modern nation-states (eg. Germany), see nationalism and specifically ethnonationalism. This is taking away from the point of this discussion though which is supposed to be about the inclusion of ethnicity as a link in the kinship article. A more detailed response regarding the Cohen article as well as kinship and descent will be done later. Epf (talk) 23:35, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

I didn't ask for a detailed response. I, and Ramdrake, asked for sources for your claims. A few days ago. This is very reasonable. I am sure if you have time to edit Wikipedia you must also have time to provide sources for your edits. Slrubenstein | Talk 09:59, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Well unfortunately I don't have time at the moment because of other research work, but your request for sources on issues of nation-states, etc. we were discussing doesn't really have anything to do with the inclusion of ethnicity as a related article to this one. Read ethnicity and the contents of this article, and that is my basis right now for including the two as related articles. Epf (talk) 19:18, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Huh? My two requests for sources were regaqrding statements you made specifically about ethnic groups or ethnicity. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:53, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

The sources you asked for aboutmt claims regarding the relationship between ethnicity and the formation of nation-states as well as the use of other terms pre-dating "ethnic" has nothing to do with the issue here. After re-reading your comments, I also notice that you misinterpreted both what I was arguing and aspects of the Cohen article. Cohen indeed did mention both the subjective or broadly defined views of ethnic groups and the narrower, universal definitions more common to anthropologists. He stresses consistently that both always incorporate an aura of descent to them as well as mentioning the descent aspect of "kinship". Regardless of all this, have you provided any reason for not including ethnicity as a link to this article ? No. Is there information in the ethnicity and kinship articles clearly pertinent to each other ? Yes, especially since many ethnic groups, (especially who at one time may have been referred to as tribal groups for reasons Cohen delves into further), use the various kinship (both marriage and genealogical) systems to define their groups. Most ethnic groups in general are also descent-based in some form, as is again mentioned by Cohen and in the ethnicity article on Wiki. This concept of descent is also found in the kinship article, specifically the section on "descent groups". Since kinship clearly is the basis for many ethnic groups, including especially the aspect of descent or shared genealogy, I think ethnicity can obviously link to this article and vice-versa. Epf (talk) 22:02, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

I am glad you now acknowledge that the statements you made for which I requested sources involved ethnicity - no need to apologize. But I am still waiting for those citations. As for descent, when kinship theorists talk about descent they generaly are refering to lineages or clans, i.e. social groups to which are atached specific jural rights and obligations. When theorists of ethnicity invoke descent, they are not refering to these institutions but rather to, in the Weberian tradition, what Shils called primordial ties. They are not the same thing. One word can mean different things in different contexts and in this case descent in the context of kinship studies and descent in the context of ethnicity studies means very different things; let's not mix them up. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:46, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

I think we finally are beginning to understanding one another. I will provide sources for those claims but I don't see how they are related to the issue here, about including ethnicity as a link to this article. Clearly, there are numerous ethnic groups out there which use kinship systems, through genealogy/descent or marriage ? Ethnicity therefore incorporates such groups and must also incorproate aspects of kinship to its groupings ? The common descent in ethnic groups and that of Kinship, as I see your point, differ in respects but I know there are some anthropologists who acknoledge or at leatst believe that the notion of common descent retained in ethnicty traces to that found in kinship, do you not agree ? Epf (talk) 23:22, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, new to Wiki editing/discussion, hope I've done this right! It is important to discuss Malinowski's view's in the following paragraph but we should not assume they are correct:

"Ideas about kinship do not necessarily assume any biological relationship between individuals, rather just close associations. Malinowski, in his ethnographic study of sexual behaviour on the Trobriand Islands noted that the Trobrianders did not believe pregnancy to be the result of sexual intercourse between the man and the woman, and they denied that there was any physiological relationship between father and child.[7] 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";[8] "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".[9]"

My point is that similar assertions were made about Australian Aborigine's beliefs (and taught in my school in the 1980s)which were mistaken. An understanding of the connection between sex & reproduction (and therefore of patrimony)existed but there was a second belief that spiritual life of an unborn baby began with the quickening and this moment was associated with the childs spiritual "totems." Anthropologists mistook the beliefs associated with the quickening to mean that the aborigines believed that was when a woman became pregnant. Does anyone have further info on Troubianders beliefs past & present? Rightfeckineejit (talk) 10:46, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

These lines here from the article specifically detail why I argue that this article be linked to the concept of ethnicity, itself usually based on a presumed common descent:
"Descent, like family systems, is one of the major concepts of anthropology. 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."
"A descent group is a social group whose members claim common ancestry"
The various kinship systems are used as basis for many ethnic and tribal groups, such as many native American groups which are specifically mentioned in this article, so I see no valid or logical reason whatsoever not to have a link at the end of the article to ethnicity, a social grouping based on factors such as common descent (presumed or real) amongst other traits (related or un-related). Epf (talk) 06:37, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

request for people who watch this page[edit]

After all uncited material was deleted - leaving only a stub - I did a major overhaul of Incest taboo. Hoping that it rises to our standards for good anthropology related articles, would people who watch this page mind looking it over, making any obvious improvements or commenting on the talk page? Thanks, Slrubenstein | Talk 19:40, 12 November 2008 (UTC)


The disambiguation page at Scion lists this article as the number one direct link for the term. And I think the disam page is correct the way it is now. Yet this article does not use the word. I'd prefer at least one sentence be added to the article that uses the word, preferably in a context that helps "disambiguates the reader" (that would be me, in this case). Thanks. —Aladdin Sane (talk) 19:25, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

Pater infamilias[edit]

While "legal issues" are mentioned, I see no mention of the legal principle (occasioned in places in the U.S.) where a non-biological parent can be made financially liable for a child fathered by someone else... TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 13:50, 5 December 2010 (UTC)


This article has extensive material and quotations from a thesis by Maximilian Piers Holland which may or may not have been added by the author himself. Unless the claims are peer-reviewed I see no reason to include them. If they are, the peer-reviewed sources should be given instead. Miradre (talk) 22:25, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

Regardless, the material needs to be severely pruned due to enormous undue weight to this particular thesis. Miradre (talk) 01:39, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
I tend to agree, even though dissertations are reliable sources. Holland's thesis does not seem to have generated a lot of attention yet. And it is a further problem that he has added it himself. ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 14:05, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
Miradre - good that you place importance on peer-reviewed, published sources. Holland's thesis is peer-reviewed and published. It therefore cannot be dismissed as 'claims'. (see Wikipedia:RS if you are unclear on WP guidelines on sources). I do agree that the direct quotations from the work are too long, I will shorten them.Discotechwreck (talk) 02:01, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
Please do not mass revert carefully explained changes. Miradre (talk) 02:26, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
Miradre - your 'careful explanations' lend little evidence to justify your mass changes of major sections of the article, including its logical structure and also significant content changes; especially trying to re-cast peer-reviewed and published work as 'claims', apparently because they don't fit your favored perspective (for which, BTW, you are infamous all over wikipedia). I don't think editors or readers of this article want to uncritically swallow the products of any dogmatic adherence to a pseudo-scientific bandwagon based on ethnocentric anglo-saxon views of 'human nature' - I'm afraid on this page we still do anthropology with strands of cultural awareness woven-in. Any ambitions to dissolve all of social science with the universal acid of genetic reductionism will have to wait a bit longer, sorry.

Your explanations for your changes do not hold water. Regarding layout - why move coverage of debates and theories that are at the center of the discussion about how biological processes / social relationships may or may not interact out of the biology section? The sociobiological perspective is seen as part of the same intellectual/cultural tradition from within anthropology (have you actually read Schneider 1984?) and should thus be in that section. Evolution has a more nuanced meaning with anthropology - why do you not stick with the 'sociobiology' or 'reductionist' nomenclature? Why have you moved well established aspects of the debate (such that sociobioloical and anthropological perspectives have disagreed with each other from the 1970s onwards) into a section called Holland's thesis? What justifies that? This debate is very well understood to exist, by all involved and all informed observers. You seem to want to put all well established points lumped under this section, just so you can classify it as "holland argues", and thus suggest it is not the commonly understood view. Then you conveniently put a tag on the whole section - all the points, summaries and evidences - both widely established and more novel, as undue weight? Nice circular reasoning in your editorial posture there. Most of these points have been argued for decades by many anthropologists, not just by Holland. If an editor knew something about the study of kinship, s/he would surely be aware of that. If not.... what would they be doing editing this article..? Oh yeah, I remember.

Anyway, I'll rest my justifications for removing most of your changes there for now - We'll see how all this pans out. I'd be glad if others who have been curating this article could join in the discussion.Discotechwreck (talk) 03:34, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

First, anthropology is not the only field doing research on kinship. The article should not be written from an exclusive (cultural) anthropological perspective but include all significant views in a neutral way. Evolutionary psychology and sociobiology views need to be presented separately, not dismissed in a subtopic section among anthropology material. Second, sociobiology and evolutionary psychology are not identical and "Reductionist" is a perjorative term used by critics. Third, there was an enormous undue weight given to material from Holland's thesis previously and despite this not giving a good representation of it. This has now been pruned to an appropriate size and clarified. Fourth, various factual error and pov descriptions has been corrected and updated material added.Miradre (talk) 03:46, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
But I do agree that a better section name would be "Evolutionary psychology and sociobiological views". Miradre (talk) 04:03, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Problem with text found[edit]

Sentence Structure It may be unclear which word is modified by "more." For clarity, consider rewording your sentence.

Sentence Structure It may be unclear which word is modified by "more." For clarity, consider rewording your sentence. • Instead of: The boardroom needs more comfortable furniture. • Consider: The boardroom needs more furniture that is comfortable. • Or consider: The boardroom needs furniture that is more comfortable. • Instead of: Businesses are looking for more capable employees. • Consider: Businesses are looking for employees that are more capable. • Or consider: Businesses are looking for more employees that are capable.

If these words are not essential to the meaning of your sentence, use "which" and separate the words with a comma.

Comma Use You have the option of using a comma and "and" before the last item in a list or leaving the comma out. Whatever your choice, be consistent throughout your text.

Capitalization Some words are always capitalized. Other words are capitalized when they are part of a title, a name, or a place. A minor word such as "the" is capitalized only when the word begins a sentence or officially begins a name. • Instead of: The pet store closes on Valentine's day. • Consider: The pet store closes on Valentine's Day. • Instead of: Mary has a map of the Hague. • Consider: Mary has a map of The Hague

"That" or "Which" If these words are not essential to the meaning of your sentence, use "which" and separate the words with a comma.

   Instead of: I have a great book which you can borrow for your vacation. 
        Consider: I have a great book, which you can borrow for your vacation. 
        Or consider: I have a great book that you can borrow for your vacation.
        Instead of: We want to buy the photo which Harry took. 
        Consider: We want to buy the photo, which Harry took. 
        Or consider: We want to buy the photo that Harry took.

Order of Words Consider whether one of the two marked words is necessary to the meaning of your sentence or whether these words are in the correct order. • Instead of: The of road of life has many detours. • Consider: The road of life has many detours. • Instead of: The we chefs have not yet made the eclairs. • Consider: The chefs have not yet made the eclairs. • Or consider: We chefs have not yet made the eclairs

Reflexive Pronoun Use Use pronouns ending in "self" in conjunction with a noun, as in "Andrew himself" or when the pronoun refers back to the subject, as in "I hit myself." Use "own" in conjunction with a pronoun only when referring back to the subject. • Instead of: They heard herself on the radio. • Consider: They heard her on the radio. • Instead of: John watched her own meal get cold. • Consider: John watched her meal get cold.

Please edit the text (talk) 20:56, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

Contextualizing the origin of kinship studies[edit]

The article's main content jumps straight into Morgan and kinship terminology. Whilst this is an historically accurate account, it must seems strange for today's students who are (hopefully) aware that social group living is not just a human trait. I have therefore contextualized Morgan's research goals in their contemporary world-view, explaining that social group life was at the time largely believed to be an exclusively human trait. This caveat helps to make the subsequent content about how kinship studies developed more understandable, including the major revisionary influence of Schneider in the 1970s/80s.DMSchneider (talk) 00:23, 21 September 2012 (UTC)


should perhaps the page Kinship terminology be mergerd here. It seems to be context-wise quite similar to this page88.114.154.216 (talk) 18:50, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

two different things actually.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 19:14, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
There could be some rebalancing of material between the articles (not sure why File:Kinship Systems.svg is on this article, not the other one), but I don't think they should be merged -- "Kinship terminology" focuses on language, while this article has a very broad-ranging subject matter... AnonMoos (talk) 19:53, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, perhaps sync would be better then. (talk) 12:50, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

tidy up[edit]

There have been for a long time two out-of-context sections in the middle of the article, as if someone was experimenting with a different article layout without following through properly and never cleared away their mess. Their inclusion was never recorded here on the talk page, nor argued for.

- 'Degrees' which is a table format with values of genetic overlap with no other text or introduction or explanation given of what it means, its relevance or its fit in the broader article. I suggest to remove this or put it at the end of the article as an appendix.

- 'extensions of the kinship metaphor' - which is just a heading with two subheadings with no content given or explanation given to readers of what this means.

Since these currently break up the flow of the article and unnecessarily divide the first section 'concepts' and the later section 'history' I am going to move these to the end of the article and put them on probation unless their inclusion and their place within the flow of the article can be argued for either here or the talk page or within their own (future?) content. (talk) 12:34, 5 July 2016 (UTC)


Given Schneider's very significant influence on kinship studies in the past 30+ years (since 1984 especially), I have created a new section in the history part of the article outlining his contributions (with quotes) and anthropologists' reactions. I hope other editors with knowledge of the subject will agree with me that Schneider has been a huge influence, and that it would be a disservice to wiki readers (wishing to understand the subject as it exists today) to not give a decent account of this influence. I intend to add more detail to the section 'kinship post-Schneider' in the coming days (and encourage other editors to add to these parts of the article). (talk) 01:13, 7 July 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ FEINBERG, Richard & OTTERMAN, Martin (Eds) (2001) The Cultural Analysis of Kinship: The Legacy of David M Schneider. University of Illinois Press. Urbana and Chicago. Page1