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This paper examines social networks in cross-national comparison, especially the assumption that in modern societies kin ties are loosening while non-kin ties are gaining importance in people's social networks. This assumption can be held only for the Northwest-European cultural area and the New World-countries descending from them. Americans and Australians have gone further in the loosening of kin ties than Britons, Germans and Austrians.
Kinship and Social Organisation
These lectures were delivered at the London School of Economics in May of the present year. They are largely based on experience gained in the work of the Percy Sladen Trust Expedition to Melanesia of , and give a simplified record of social conditions which will be described in detail in the full account of the work of that expedition.
A few small additions and modifications have been made since the lectures were given, some of these being due to suggestions made by Professor Westermarck and Dr. Malinowski in the discussions which followed the lectures.
I am also indebted to Miss B. Freire-Marreco for allowing me to refer to unpublished material collected during her recent work among the Pueblo Indians of North America. The aim of these lectures is to demonstrate the close connection which exists between methods of denoting relationship or kinship and forms of social organisation, including those based on different varieties of the institution of marriage.
In other words, my aim will be to show that the terminology of relationship has been rigorously determined by social conditions and that, if this position has been established and accepted, systems of relationship furnish us with a most valuable instrument in studying the history of social institutions. In the controversy of the present and of recent times, it is the special mode of denoting relationship known as the classificatory system which has formed the chief subject of discussion.
It is in connection with this system that there have arisen the various vexed questions which have so excited the interest—I might almost say the passions—of sociologists during the last quarter of a century. I am afraid it would be dangerous to assume your familiarity with this system, and I must therefore begin with a brief description of its main characters.
The essential feature of the classificatory system, that to which it owes its name, is the application of its terms, not to single individual persons, but to classes of relatives which may often be very large.
Objections have been made to the use of the term classificatory on the ground that our own terms of relationship also apply to classes of persons; the term brother, for instance, to all the male children of the same father and mother, the term uncle to all the brothers of the father and mother as well as to the husband of an aunt, while the term cousin may denote a still larger class. It is, of course, true that many of our own terms of relationship apply to classes of persons, but in the systems to which the word classificatory is usually applied, the classificatory principle applies far more widely, and in some cases even, more logically and consistently.
In the most complete form of the classificatory system there is not one single term of relationship the use of which tells us that reference is being made to one person and to one person only, whereas in our own system there are six such terms, viz. In those systems in which the classificatory principle is carried to its extreme degree every term is applied to a class of persons. The term father, for instance, is applied to all those whom the father would call brother, and to all the husbands of those whom the mother calls sister, both brother and sister being used in a far wider sense than among ourselves.
In some forms of the classificatory system the term father is also used for all those whom the mother would call brother, and for all the husbands of those whom the father would call sister, and in other systems the application of the term may be still more extensive. Similarly, the term used for the wife may be applied to all those whom the wife would call sister and to the wives of all those whom the speaker calls brother, brother and sister again being used in a far wider sense than in our own language.
The classificatory system has many other features which mark it off more or less sharply from our own mode of denoting relationship, but I do not think it would be profitable to attempt a full description at this stage of our enquiry.
As I have said, the object of these lectures is to show how the various features of the classificatory system have arisen out of, and can therefore be explained historically by, social facts. If you are not already acquainted with these features, you will learn to know them the more easily if at the same time you learn how they have come into existence.
I will begin with a brief history of the subject. So long as it was supposed that all the peoples of the world denoted relationship in the same way, namely, that which is customary among ourselves, there was no problem. There was no reason why the subject should have awakened any interest, and so far as I have been able to find, it is only since the discovery of the classificatory system of relationship that the problem now before us was ever raised.
I imagine that, if students ever thought about the matter at all, it must have seemed obvious that the way in which they and the other known peoples of the world used terms of relationship was conditioned and determined by the social relations which the terms denoted. The state of affairs became very different as soon as it was known that many peoples of the world use terms of relationship in a manner, and according to rules, so widely different from our own that they seem to belong to an altogether different order, a difference well illustrated by the confusion which is apt to arise when we use English words in the translation of classificatory terms or classificatory terms as the equivalents of our own.
The difficulty or impossibility of conforming to complete truth and reality, when we attempt this task, is the best witness to the fundamental difference between the two modes of denoting relationship. I do not know of any discovery in the whole range of science which can be more certainly put to the credit of one man than that of the classificatory system of relationship by Lewis Morgan.
By this I mean, not merely that he was the first to point out clearly the existence of this mode of denoting relationship, but that it was he who collected the vast mass of material by which the essential characters of the system were demonstrated, and it was he who was the first to recognise the great theoretical importance of his new discovery. It is the denial of this importance by his contemporaries and successors which furnishes the best proof of the credit which is due to him for the discovery.
The very extent of the material he collected  has probably done much to obstruct the recognition of the importance of his work. It is a somewhat discouraging thought that, if Morgan had been less industrious and had amassed a smaller collection of material which could have been embodied in a more available form, the value of his work would probably have been far.
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In anthropology , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Kinship can refer both to the patterns of social relationships themselves, or it can refer to the study of the patterns of social relationships in one or more human cultures i. Further, even within these two broad usages of the term, there are different theoretical approaches.
Read this article to get information on the functions, bases, classes and importance of kinship! Kinship is a cultural artifact created in every society. As an artifact it primarily shapes people. As an important social institution it performs a number of functions.
These lectures were delivered at the London School of Economics in May of the present year. They are largely based on experience gained in the work of the Percy Sladen Trust Expedition to Melanesia of , and give a simplified record of social conditions which will be described in detail in the full account of the work of that expedition. A few small additions and modifications have been made since the lectures were given, some of these being due to suggestions made by Professor Westermarck and Dr.
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From long-term studies of a number of anthropoid species, many investigators have shown that kinship affinities affect social relationships. Factors such as proximity, social grooming, dominance rank, and mating patterns have been shown to be related to kinship. In this paper, we report the results of a preliminary study of the social organization of a group of prosimians Lemur catta in which individuals were identified and kinship affinities were known.