Definition of Kinship
Example of Kinship
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈkɪnˌʃɪp/
- British English – /ˈkɪnʃɪp/
- Plural: kinships
- Kin is the shortened version of kinship and means an individual in a kinship.
- The terms “relative” and “kin” are interchangeable.
- Kinship theory studies kinship rules.
- This is a simplified definition of a vast continuum of societal and cultural practices that is one of the most studied subjects in sociology and particularly in anthropology.
- Kinship rules are specific and can govern an individual’s descent, customs, inheritance, marriage options, obligations, residence, rights, roles, socially appropriate sexual relations, and statuses.
- Kinship is one of the primary institutional and organizational principles of society and is socially universal.
- The difference between the father’s and mother’s side of the family is referred to as bifurcation.
- Lewis Henry Morgan‘s (1818–1881) Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity in the Human Family (1871) and Claude Lévi-Strauss’ (1908–2009) The Elementary Structures of Kinship (1949) helped establish the study of kinship as a distinct field of anthropology and sociology. Morgan and Lévi-Strauss among other kinship writers were critiqued by David M. Schneider (1918–1995) in American Kinship: A Cultural Account and A Critique of the Study of Kinship (1984). Schneider’s work reinvigorated the study of kinship.
- “Families of orientation, procreation, and cohabitation provide us with some of the most important roles we will assume in life. The nuclear family roles (such as parent, child, husband, wife, and sibling) combine with extended family roles (such as grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, and in-law) to form the kinship system” (Strong, Devault, and Cohen 2011:19).
- “Hunting and gathering societies represent the earliest form of organized social life. Individuals in groups of about 50 survive by hunting animals and gathering edible foods. Kinship—ties by blood and marriage—is the foundation for most relationships and is principal institution for hunting and gathering societies. There are no specialized or enduring work groups, governments, or standing armies” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:62).
- “In American society, the basic kinship system consists of parents and children, but it may include other relatives as well, especially grandparents. Each person in this system has certain rights and obligations as a result of his or her position in the family structure. Furthermore, a person may occupy several positions at the same time. For example, an 18-year-old woman may simultaneously be a daughter, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, and a granddaughter. Each role entails different rights and obligations. As a daughter, the young woman may have to defer to certain decisions of her parents; as a sister, to share her bedroom; as a cousin, to attend a wedding; and as a granddaughter, to visit her grandparents during the holidays” (Strong, Devault, and Cohen 2011:19).
- Since all known kinship systems impose an incest tabu, the transition from asexual intrafamilial relationships to the sexual relation of marriage – generally to a previously relatively unknown person – is general. But with us this transition is accompanied by a process of ’emancipation’ from the ties both to parents and to siblings, which is considerably more drastic than in most kinship systems, especially in that it applies to both sexes about equally, and includes emancipation from solidarity with all members of the family of orientation about equally, so that there is relatively little continuity with any kinship ties established by birth for anyone” (Parsons 1943:32).
- “Such a society is small, isolated, non-literate and homogeneous, with a strong sense of group solidarity. The ways of living are conventionalized into the coherent system which we call ‘a culture‘. Behavior is traditional, spontaneous, uncritical and personal: there is no legislation or habit of experiment and reflection for intellectual ends. Kinship, its relations and institutions, are the type categories of experience and the familial group is the unit of action. The sacred prevails over the secular; the economy is one of status rather than the market” (Redfield 1947:293).
- Family and Kinship Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “kinship” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1949. The Elementary Structures of Kinship.
- Mead, Margaret, and Ken Heyman. 1965. Family. New York: Macmillan.
- Morgan, Lewis Henry. 1871. Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution.
- A Kinship Glossary – Michael Dean Murphy – Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama: anthropology.ua.edu
- Kinship and Descent – Tim Roufs – Cultural Anthropology, University of Minnesota Duluth: umn.edu
- Kinship Residence Rules: family.jrank.org
- The Nature of Kinship – Glossary of Terms: anthro.palomar.edu
Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2008. Sociology: The Core. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Parsons, Talcott. 1943. “The Kinship System of the Contemporary United States.” American Anthropologist 45(1):22–38. doi:10.1525/aa.1943.45.1.02a00030.
Strong, Bryan, Christine DeVault, and Theodore F. Cohen. 2011. The Marriage and Family Experience: Intimate Relationships in a Changing Society. 11th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.
Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
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Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson.
Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
Marsh, Ian, and Mike Keating, eds. 2006. Sociology: Making Sense of Society. 3rd ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
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Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “kinship.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 10, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/kinship/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
kinship. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/kinship/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “kinship.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 10, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/kinship/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“kinship.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/kinship/>.