Humanity's Penchant for Relationships

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As humans, we are prone to form groups. It’s simply in our nature to depend on one another for survival purposes, and one of the ways that humans structure these groups is based on relatedness. Within this sphere of relatedness, one comes across kinship. Kinship is commonly defined as the state or quality of being kin, i.e., sharing a common ancestor. Western society has stretched the idea of common ancestry, and thusly kinship, to its maximum by drawing a clear distinction between mothers and fathers along with their families (hence the use of the words patrilineal and matrilineal). Embedded within these lineages are rights to inheritances, social prestige, political power, and so on. Cross-cultural studies have revealed that all cultures do not fall under such a strict biogenetic model as Western society does which shows that kinship systems are tied to something beyond biology. That being said, social influences (such as politics, economics, and worldviews) on marriage, birth, and nurturance, will determine how a culture creates and defines kinship.

Kinship plays a major role in defining who can marry whom. Marriage is a social factor and the bedrock of mating practices in most cultures which means it is integral for the creation of the next generation. One of things that marriage does is transform the status of a man and woman. The title of “their child” is dropped and those of “his wife” or “her husband” are forged. With this comes a new identity and that comes new social obligations. For instance, Marsha Prior points out in her article “Matrifocality, Power, and Gender Relations in Jamaica” that women played an authoritative role in the house; however, this authority was dependent upon the men in their lives. ...

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...l about marriage, birth, and nurturance and the impact they have on defining kinship. Marriage is the social process through which many cultures engage in mating practices, and thus, this institution is able to determine an individual’s status as man or woman, create kinship ties to the families of married couples, and legitimize the children born within it. The different worldviews of biological birth writes the implications of biogenetic model and assigns the roles of mother and father, even to those who fail to provide the basic needs for survival. Nurturance is the substance that surpasses biology and forges a sense of kinship in place where it is absent. Long before central governments, kinship was important in maintaining social order. Even today, kinship is essential to preserving social order and for upholding groups which is the means of our survival.

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