kinship, relationship by blood (consanguinity) or marriage (affinity) between persons; also, in anthropology and sociology, a system of rules, based on such relationships, governing descent, inheritance, marriage, extramarital sexual relations, and sometimes residence. All societies recognize consanguineal and affinal ties between individuals, but there is great divergence in the manner of reckoning descent and relationship. Kinship patterns are so specific and elaborate that they constitute an important and independent field of anthropological and sociological investigation. In many societies the concept of kinship extends beyond family ties, which vary in breadth and inclusiveness, to less precisely defined groupings such as the clan, where consanguinity is often hypothetical if not actually mythological. As a rule, however, these groups maintain incest taboos as strict as those for close biological relatives.

See R. Fox, Kinship and Marriage (1967); I. Buchler and H. A. Selby, Kinship and Social Organization (1968); B. Farber, Comparative Kinship Systems (1968); J. R. Goody, Comparative Studies in Kinship (1969).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Kinship: Selected full-text books and articles

Kinship and Gender: An Introduction By Linda Stone Westview Press, 1997
Conceptions of Kinship By Bernard Farber Elsevier, 1981
Kinship and Family Organization By Bernard Farber John Wiley & Sons, 1966
Families, History, and Social Change: Life Course and Cross-Cultural Perspectives By Tamara K. Hareven Westview Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: Part One "Family and Kinship: Continuity and Change"
Social and Cultural Anthropology: The Key Concepts By Nigel Rapport; Joanna Overing Routledge, 2000
Librarian's tip: "Kinship" begins on p. 217
Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family By Lewis Henry Morgan University of Nebraska Press, 1997
Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship By Kath Weston Columbia University Press, 1991
Kinship Ideology and Practice in Latin America By Raymond T. Smith University of North Carolina Press, 1984
Kinship and Friendship in Modern Britain By Graham Allan Oxford University Press, 1996
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.