Kinship and Gender
What differences does Kinship difference make?
- What difference does different kind principles make to gender roles and
- How do individuals in different positions respond to kin rules and norms?
o Bedouin women had the power to challenge the patrilineal rules
- Kinship as ‘rules’ and as ‘process’ involves, negotiation, bargaining, living to
norms, breaking rules.
- Culture is not static
- Theoretical orientations- descent and alliance theories; constructing general
- Comparative study of kin ‘systems’ and terminologies.
- “Butterfly collecting”- classifications of kin systems.
- Structure and function of kinship groups and their reproduction.
- What do their narratives tell us about women and men experience gender.
o Focus on women narratives can tell us about individual experiences
about gender but it does not tell us about gender entirely, no
Building Blocks of Kinship
- Copulation- Heterosexual
- Birth- sexual reproduction
o Filiation (relationship between parent and child) and consanguinity
o Blood relations, siblings.
- Replacement – marriage (alliance and affinity) adoption.
- Group formation; affiliation via Descent principles
- Descent groups- lineage, clan, tribe
- Relations with other families/ kin – Affinity, alliance
- Exogamy (CCM) and endogamy (PCM)
o If you keep marring inside you no longer make connection with the
- Kinship KIN and Affines (blood and marriage)
- The genealogical grid- tracing kin.
- Transcending natural facts to create social ties.
David Schneider: Critique of Eurocentric Kinship: 1980’s
- Basically said that our notions of kinship are based on our own cultural
o Our cultural values are based on how Americans construct meanings
based on blood and blood-ties
- American Kinship
o “Denaturalizing the natural”: substance (blood, natural, facts of life)
and code (cultural meanings given to substance) o Denaturalizing was important for gender because it allowed them to
look at gender in a different way
- “ Blood is thicker than water”
- Biogenetic model of kinship- model applied to other ties.
- American folk model
o Naturalized, heterosexual reproduction
o Based on romantic love
o Leading to conjugal family (relationship between a couple)
o Diffuse solidarity, prescriptive altruism.
o Family is the model for kinship
o Centrality of mother-child bond
- Genealogical grid: genealogical relations are the same in all cultures;
privileging genealogical relations above others.
The ‘New Kinship’ (revival in 1990’s)
1. Feminist critique
a. Biology and sex are cultural constructions.
b. Mutual construction of gender and kinship (Collier and Yangisako);
kinship is not ‘isogamous’ equal for men and women
c. Argue that “inequalities of culture embedded in kinship” (Collier and
2. New reproductive technologies; assisted conception, surrogacy…
3. Gay and Lesbian studies.
4. Science and Technology- Genetic screening for diseases.
5. Transnational migrations, adoptions, mixed marriages.
a. Social media has opened up all kinds of opportunities to keep in touch
6. Kinship as ‘practice’- doing kinship, kin work.
a. What do with these rules, and how do they experience.
b. It is work staying in touch with your family.
Patrilineal (b), matrilineal (r)
- Patrilineal system includes both males and females
- Descent is always traced in the male line
o All of the women who marry into the descent group- they are part of
their own patrilineal group
Lineal and collateral
- Collateral kin are the siblings of parents and their descendants.
Matrilineal and Patrilineal (structural differences)
- Not mirror images.
o Because descent is in the male line in one and in the other is in the
o Line of authority however is always in the male line (MB (mother’s
brother holds authority)-ZS (sisters son)) authority goes in a
matrilineal society from mothers-brother to his sisters’ son.
o Retention of lineage M or F Bring women from the outside keep men inside.
o Control over children
P- children that are born into this group they children stay with
M- children stay with the mother
o Reproduction vs. sexual control
M- women reproduce, controlled by women
o Matrilineal puzzle