Comparative Kinship Systems: A Method of Analysis

Comparative Kinship Systems: A Method of Analysis

Comparative Kinship Systems: A Method of Analysis

Comparative Kinship Systems: A Method of Analysis

Excerpt

"The subject of incest has a strange fascination for man. . . . Men seem never to tire of it but continue to find it ever fresh and absorbing. Incest must indeed be reckoned as one of man's major interests in life."

This book relates prohibitions of incestuous marriage to the organization of kinship groups. It presents an analysis of ten kinship systems in terms of relatives who are forbidden to marry one another. Insofar as kinship relationships constitute systems, the norms governing incestuous marriage should be consistent with those regulating inheritance, marriage preferences, control over nuclear family relationships, and divorce. The analysis is concerned ultimately with the association between kinship systems and social stratification.

The book is intended as a prologomena to a more extensive study of kinship. As such, it does not pursue many of the ideas and questions regarding social structure that grow out of the analysis. Because the larger study may take several years to complete, I have decided to prepare this monograph now in case other social scientists want to apply the method of analysis described in it.

Discussions of social norms are necessarily speculative, for the numerous contingencies that emerge in everyday interaction require departure from these norms. Moreover, marital norms are not uniformly enforced. At best, an analysis based on norms provides an understanding of the aspirations of a society; at . . .

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