Introduction to the Study of Kinship and Marriage

Main Question: A few simple terms and analysis of one kind of society, that is, hunter-gatherer society.

Introductory Terms | References

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Introductory Terms

Kinship: "Two persons are kin to each other when they are linked by socially recognized bonds of decent or marriage or both" (Barnes)
Marriage: "Marriage is a union between a man and a woman such that children born to the woman are the recognised legitimate offspring of both partners" (Notes & Queries)
Elementary Family: "The elementary family is a group consisting of a father and a mother and their children, whether they are living together or not"
Ego: The system of kinship and marriage must be entered at one point and viewed from there, this is termed the "ego" (and is usually taken to be an unmarried adult male).
Sibling: Children of the same father and mother; male sibling=brother, female=sister
Affine: Relative through marriage (both wife and other relatives)
Consanguines: Relatives through blood
Lineal Relatives: In the direct consanguineal line, e.g. father, mother, son, son's son
Collateral Relatives: Relatives on one side, e.g. uncle, niece etc.
Descent: The transmission of "kin-group" membership (as opposed to the transmission of property - "inheritance" - and the transmission of office - "succession") (Rivers)
Biological Link: The physical, genetic, blood link between two persons
Social Link: The perceived relationship between two persons
Pater: The "social" father
Genitor: The "biological" father
Filiation: The fact of being a child (social and/or biological) or someone


Barnes, J. (1959) "Kinship", in Encyclopaedia Britannica
Beattie. J., chs. 7 & 8, in Other Cultures
Eggan, F. (1968) "Kinship", in International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences
Lee, R.B. & De Vore, I., Sections 5, 8, 11, 15 & 17, Man the Hunter
Levi-Strauss, C. (1960) "The Family", in Shapiro, H.C., Man, Culture & Society
Marshall, G. (1968) "Marriage; comparative analysis" in Int. Enc. Soc. Sci
Marshall, L., Chs. 5 & 8, in The Kung of Nyae Nyae
Radcliffe-Brown, A.R. "Introduction" in (eds.) African Systems of Kinship and Marriages
Service, E.R., Ch.3. The Hunters