CHAPTER 3
NEW FAMILIES

Types of kin group -- The homestead of the Tallensi -- Wider significance of the lineage -- Chinese lineages -- Lineage and marriage -- Marriage payments -- Contrasts with Western values -- Marriage in matrilineal societies -- Marriage in changing Africa -- Legal marriage as astatus symbol -- Marriage in Singapore -- Change in matrilineal societies.

WHEN PEOPLE discuss changes in family organisation, whether in the Western world or in more recently industrialised countries, they often deplore the fact that the family has lost many of the functions that it used to have. It would be truer to say that the social group which used to be thought of as the family has become smaller, and that the family of today cannot possibly do for its members what some earlier types of family did. Obviously a good deal of confusion must be caused if people use 'family' indiscriminately to mean a couple with their children, a polygamous household, or all a person's traceable kin, and social anthropologists have taken some pains to sort out and distinguish these and other different kinds of kin groups. It is possible in any society to identify the 'elementary' or 'nuclear' family of parents with their children. But in small- scale societies the members of the elementary family go through life in close contact with the parents' kin, and look to them for co-operation in many of the matters in which the family (in this sense) is not self-sufficient, whereas in urban, industrialised populations such co-operation is sought in relationships to which kinship is irrelevant.

In a society based on status, to use Maine's phrase, a significant part of a person's social relationships is defined by his membership, not of a class, the category which Westerners

-58-

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New Nations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • Chapter 1 - NATIONS REMADE 11
  • Chapter 2 - NEW MODES OF LIVELIHOOD 32
  • Chapter 3 - NEW FAMILIES 58
  • Chapter 4 - NEW STATES 96
  • Chapter 5 - NEW TOWNSMEN 128
  • Chapter 6 - NEW RELIGIONS 160
  • Chapter 7 - SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE 192
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 229
  • Index 231
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