Sociology Index


KINSHIP STRUCTURE refers to the way social relationships between individuals related by blood, affinal ties (pertaining to marriage) or socially defined (fictive) connection are organized and normatively regulated. Kinship is the central organizational principle of many traditional societies, since it is through the kinship structure that social placement, cultural transmission and many functional necessities for life will be met.

Extent of relevant kinship connection differs greatly from society to society. Kinship bonds are generally defined more broadly and extensively in traditional societies than in modern capitalist societies. Because of unprecedented increases in longevity, the kinship structure has been transformed. Linkages among family members have been prolonged, and the surviving generations in a family have increased in number and complexity.

Changing Kinship Structure and its Implications for Old-Age Support in Urban and Rural China, Jiang L. - This study explores the ramifications of China's imminent population aging at the family and kinship level - by simulating China's evolving family and kinship structure.

Today's kinship structure (which has no parallel in history) can be viewed in a new way: as a latent web of continually shifting linkages that provide the potential for activating and intensifying close family relationships. The Family in an Aging Society - A Matrix of Latent Relationships, MATILDA WHITE RILEY, National Institute on Aging and Bowdoin College.

On Kinship Structure, Female Autonomy, and Demographic Behavior in India - Tim Dyson, Mick Moore, Population and Development Review, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Mar., 1983)
Abstract: The main states of India are broadly grouped into two demographic regimes. In contrast to states in the north, southern states are characterized by lower marital fertility, later age at marriage, lower infant and child mortality, and comparatively low ratios of female to male infant and child mortality. The division between the two regimes broadly coincides with the division between areas of northern kinship/low female autonomy and southern kinship/high female autonomy.

Kinship Structure and Process
The first part of the course contrasts the 'descent theory' and 'alliance theory' paradigm which dominated anthropological approaches to kinship from the 1940s until the 1970s. This split is shown to exemplify broader differences in theoretical approach towards the study of anthropology more generally. The second part of the course examines some of the ways in which people in different societies conceptualise and live out relatedness. It shows how notions about relatedness are linked to concepts of the person, notions about gender, and theories of procreation which may be radically different from our own (which are themselves changing under the impact of New Reproductive Technologies). Kinship has long been regarded as the core of the anthropological discipline, although the extent to which this is still the case is questionable.

Seminar on Kinship and Demographic Behavior - Salt Lake City, Utah -
Scholars from several disciplines have focused on the role of kinship structure and its effects on population dynamics. Historians of population have demonstrated the importance of the kinship network to understand demographic and social processes. Historical demographers have closely examined kinship networks in historical societies where kinship is thought to have been a major organizing principle of social groupings. There are a number of inquiries that are using concepts that draw upon these various approaches. For example, kinship structure or early family events have been studied in terms of their effects on outcomes including health, fertility, and mortality. These studies of kinship have stimulated new analytical approaches and have produced findings that are among the most innovative and productive lines of inquiry in population history and social history. 

Dagestan in Russia is relatively peaceful because there is a tradition in which political structures trump kinship structures, such as clans. Now an ethnic group and ethnic identity is a kinship structure, just as a clan. So when Dagestan’s thirty-plus ethnic groups were organized within the Russian empire, within the Republic of Dagestan, within the Soviet Union, and within the Russian Federation, all of these larger political structures were, from a Dagestani perspective, essentially the djamaat writ large.