Kinship, Definitions, Sociology YouTube Lecture Handouts

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  • “A social relationship based upon family relatedness.” – Theodor son and Theodor son
  • “Kinship is one of the most important organizing components of society. This social institution ties individuals and groups together and establishes a relationship among them.”
  • “Kinship is a structured system of relationships in which kins are bound to one another by complex interlocking ties.” - George Peter Murdock


  • Anthropological significance
  • Lewis Henry Morgan - Kinship, Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family (1871)
  • Rule of incest
  • Social recognition of biological ties
  • Based on ties of blood, marriage or adoption
  • Defines how family relationships form
  • How family members interact with one another
  • A social group that gives him name, identity, duties, residence, etc.

Types of Kinship

Consanguineous Kinship – bond of blood – family of orientation

  • Affinal Kinship – bond of marriage – family of procreation
  • Social (By Schneider) – no blood relation – eg. Rotary club- can end relations without legal interference

Degree of Kinship

On the basis of nearness or distance

Primary Kins

  • Some relatives are very close and direct
  • Legally or socially defined
  • Example father-son, husband-wife

Secondary Kins

  • Related through primary kin
  • 33 secondary kins
  • Example Fraternal or Maternal Uncle

Tertiary Kins

  • Secondary kins of primary kins
  • Eg. Wife՚s brother՚s son
  • According to Murdock, 151 tertiary kins of a person.

Classification of Kinship Terms by Morgan

  • Classificatory system – various kins are included in one category and all referred to by a single term- primitive society- eg. Uncle
  • Descriptive system - one term refers to only one relation – modern society - eg. Chacha, Mama

A. R. Radcliffe Brown

  • Kin roles are important not kin terms
  • Primary, secondary and tertiary roles
  • Culturally defined and designed obligations and roles
  • Multiple roles have to be played
  • Kinship structure part of social structure
  • Adherence to social norms
  • Structure of kinship may differ with societies

Functions of Kinship Relations

  • Coming together for religious, political, rituals, etc.
  • Characterizes relations between kins
  • Determines reciprocal behaviour
  • Social position
  • Kins are bound with one another through inter-locking ties
  • System of status and role that governs behaviour of people related to each other
  • Rights of inheritance defined

Importance of Kinship

  • Rituals, social ceremonies participation
  • Lineage or extension or anscestory – unilinear
  • Kinship groups can be – Gotra and Vansh
  • Help, cooperation, unity and harmony
  • Sets guidelines for communication and interactions
  • Defines the rights and obligations of the family and marriage


Q. 1. Consider the following statements:

Assertion (A) : The role of kinship in a large, mobile and heterogeneous society will be significant.

Reason (R) : Kinship is an outdated social institution which is losing its importance.


(a) Both, A and R, are true and R is the correct explanation of A

(b) Both, A and R, are true but R is not the correct explanation of A

(c) A is true but R is false

(d) A is false but R is true

Answer: d

Q. 2.

Assertion (A) : Kinship data should be empirical and comparative.

Reason (R) : The data can help find out functions of kinship in various societies.


(a) Both, A and R, are true and R is the correct explanation of A

(b) Both, A and R, are true but R is not the correct explanation of A

(c) If A is true but R is false

(d) If A is false but R is true

Answer: a

#Sociological Concepts

#Social Institutions

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