The Stranger: A Study in Social Relationships

By Margaret Mary Wood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE OBLIGATIONS OF KINSHIP

I. THE ANDAMANESE SYSTEM OF HORDE RELATIONSHIPS

EVERY individual belongs to a cultural group and more intimately to a greater or a less number of smaller groups within this larger community. He may also belong to other groups whose membership, either directly or indirectly, cuts across the unity of different cultural groups and binds together individuals of like or complementary interests throughout a far greater area. The form that the social organization of a group assumes is an adjustment to the varied and sometimes conflicting demands which are made upon individuals as members of these interrelated groups. The degree of complexity of the social structure of a people is a function of the number of interdependent groups which lie wholly or partially within its domain, and the manner in which communities differ in this respect has been taken as a basis for distinguishing between simpler and more highly civilized peoples. The cultures of such peoples as the Andaman Islanders, the Australian aborigines, the Trobriand Islanders, the American Indians, the Eskimos, and the Negro tribes of Africa are all spoken of as simple or primitive. Although differing from one another in many ways, each of these peoples has a simple social organization in comparison with the highly involved, interrelated social structures of the so-called civilized nations of Europe, Asia and the Americas. In the Andaman Islands, for instance, an individual belongs to his horde of perhaps fifty persons which is the territorial and war-making unit. Within the horde he is a member of a family and of his own age and

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