By Jack Goody
A set of specifically commissioned essays facing common elements of kinship, family members and marriage from an anthropological perspective, that's, contemplating the whole diversity of human societies. In his editorial advent, Jack Goody explains that his objective has been to supply 'essays facing basic subject matters instead of ethnographic conundrums or descriptive trivia' within the wish of attaining 're-consideration of a few critical areas of difficulty together with these tested by way of an prior iteration of anthropologists and nonetheless raised by way of students outdoor the self-discipline itself'. person essays disguise difficulties reminiscent of the character of kinship and the relatives; why monogamy?; intermarriage and the construction of castes. The members comprise R. G. Abrahams, J. A. Barnes, Fredrik Barth, Maurice Bloch, Derek Freeman, Jack Goody, Grace Harris, Jean los angeles Fontaine, Edmund Leach, Julian Pitt-Rivers, Raymond T. Smith, Andrew Strathern and S. J. Tambiah.
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Additional info for The Character of Kinship
The difference between Beattie and Fortes lies rather, it would seem, in the definition of the basis of kinship itself. Beattie professes disinterest in this question, arguing that it is irrelevant for the social anthropologist's enquiries; yet in so doing he is less than clear about his own fundamental position. Thus he writes: 'to say that a social relationship is a kinship one is to tell us nothing at all of its content. , relations are talked and thought about in certain societies. ' (1964a: 102).
It remains for me to suggest how the Middle Eastern concept of descent reflects the gross features of the actors' experience of life with kinsmen and strangers, and the occasions when descent groups are mobilized and descent group identity is activated. 3 This also provides the ideological underpinning for the transmission of property and other rights and obligations in the male line. But it does not provide a sufficient basis for deductions about the ideology involving collaterals, or shareholders in joint estates, and thus the actors' descent concept; it is my thesis that this, like all other concepts, will emerge through a dialectical process of confrontation with the reality it is used to designate With the Middle Eastern codification of all kinship and affinal relations as essentially 'of the same kind', the range of what will be experienced as distinctive for agnates becomes limited.
They are: (1) the fact that local groups are heterogeneous with respect to the lineage affiliations of their members, and there is mobility of individuals between local groups (points a, b, g). (2) Secondly, there is considerable choice available to an individual as to where he will give his allegiance, and individuals resident in a locality are not disadvantaged by belonging to alien lineages. Indeed descent group membership, it is said, may be easily changed (points c, d, b). (3) Finally, genealogies are unimportant and non-segmentary (points e, f) and there are no common religious or other activities which represent lineage membership 37 Descent in New Guinea (g, h).