Kinship and Parentage

Kinship is important in all societies for regulation of behaviour between persons, the formation of social, political, and territorial groups. Western domestic family is a basic social unit. Simpler societies have a wide range of activities regulated by kinship. Kinship systems have many developed forms. Two persons are considered kin when linked by socially recognised bods, real or fictional.

Everywhere persons derive position in society from parentage. Actions are expected or derived from this. Status may be dependent on ancestry – rather than social parentage or non-physical parents. This may determine inheritance, social position, and kin groups. Need to distinguish between physical parentage and foster parentage. Need – distinguish both from social parentage.

Social parents are those in whom the child acquires rights, privileges, duties, and obligations. Hence the derivation of the social personality. Ties linking child with social parents and siblings. Social parenthood generates a web of links between persons of cognatic or consanguinous kinship. Two persons are cognates when descent is traced from common ancestors.

Bonds of affinity or marriage supplement those of descent – these persons are affinal kin when linked through marriage.

The study of kinship is the investigation of how social ties of descent and marriage are established, elaborated, fabricated, modified, forgotten, or suppressed. Furthermore – how these ties are related to other manifestations of personal and social action. Also how sexual alliances are distinguished from social kinship.

The nuclear family is where parenthood is a manifestation of family formation. Infant rearing is usually associated with parents, but not always. The task is not shared equally by all  members of the community. The association of parents and children is the so-called nuclear family. New families are continually founded and old ones fade away.

Multiplicity of tasks within the family – especially in primitive societies – organised according to the division by generations, sex, etc. Not only reproductive unit – but also – unit of economic cooperation, training, mutual assistance.


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