A multi-generational extended family
in Chagcharan Ghowr province, Afghanistan.
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. Anthropologist Robin Fox
states that "the study of kinship is the study of what man does with these basic facts of life – mating, gestation, parenthood, socialization
, siblingship etc." Human society is unique, he argues, in that we are "working with the same raw material as exists in the animal world, but [we] can conceptualize and categorize it to serve social ends." These social ends include the socialization of children and the formation of basic economic, political and religious groups.
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.e. kinship studies). Over its history, anthropology has developed a number of related concepts and terms in the study of kinship, such as descent
, descent group, lineage
and fictive kinship
. Further, even within these two broad usages of the term, there are different theoretical approaches. Read more...