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BSOC-109: Sociology of Kinship

BSOC-109: Sociology of Kinship

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

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Assignment Code: BSOC-109/ASST/TMA/2021-22 \

Course Code: BSOC-109

Assignment Name: Sociology of Kinship

Year: 2021-2022

Verification Status: Verified by Professor



Assignment A



Answer the following in about 500 words each.


Q1) Critically examine the alliance approach to the study of kinship. (20)

Ans) The major features of descent and alliance approach to study kinship in India are as follows:


Alliance Theory

The features of descent and the alliance approach to studying kinship in India are described in the Alliance Theory. The question of how arbitrary social categories (such as those within kinship, race, or class) came to be prompted his work. He was particularly interested in explaining their ostensibly obligatory nature or presence in nations' "natural order." Lévi-Strauss turned to kinship in The Elementary Structures of Kinship to try to answer these problems. The alliance hypothesis of kinship was named after his model.


Most anthropologists saw incest taboos as negative prohibitions with a biological foundation (to avoid the transmission of bad genetic features) or as a reflection of a specific nexus of marriage-related cultural laws. Incest taboos, on the other hand, were seen as positive injunctions to marry outside the group by Lévi-Strauss. The titular elementary structures" in The Elementary Structures of Kinship were these ‘positive marital norms, which say that a Spouse must be from a given social category.


System of Kinship

Kinship Groups:

Kinship ties serve as a means of handing down status and property from one generation to the next, as well as a means of forming successful social groups for cooperation and conflict. As a result, we must determine the type of descent or tracing one's ancestors. To put it another way, we're talking about the social groups in which relatives collaborate and compete. As a result, we must define kinship groups.


Kinship Terminology:

It is a list of terminology that individuals use to refer to their relatives. The nature of the kinship system is expressed through relationships. This is why we can shed light on the kinship system by discussing kinship terminology. Most aspects of a community's kinship system are mirrored in the way kinship terminology are employed in that society. In most cases, a person would use the same term to refer to relatives who are related in the same way. These cousins would likewise play comparable kinship roles in this situation. It is customary to refer to the speaker as ego when discussing kinship language. The first person singular pronoun is referred to by the word ego, which means | in Latin. Either a male or female can be the speaker or ego.


Second, there are two distinct forms of kinship phrases. The terms of address are covered in one. This means that when people address each other, they employ kinship phrases. Then there are the phrases that are used to describe a certain relationship. Terms of reference are what they're called. Only one phrase may be used to express the two categories in some cases. Finally, you'd like to understand how to write long kinship words in a concise manner. If we want to write mother's brother's daughter, for example, we can use the abbreviation mbd. For instance, the son of the father's sister's daughter can be described as fads. The letter 'z' symbolises for sister, and the number 5 represents for son. Similarly, for father's father's brother's daughter, you might use the abbreviation ffbd. When describing distinct sets of kinship words, this approach of phrasing kinship terms is useful.


Marriage Rules:

50 also has laws for marriage, categories of persons who may or may not marry each other, and interactions between bride-takers and bride givers create the environment within which kin relationships operate, just as kinship groupings characterise the type of kinship system existing in a culture. By discussing these topics, we can have a better grasp of the content of kinship connections. In order to comprehend any kinship system, it is vital to discuss marriage regulations.


Gifts Exchanged:

Sociologists enjoy describing social ties among different types of relatives. Kinship behaviour is characterised in terms of pairs, as there are always two terms in any relationship. The parent-child connection, for example, would describe intergenerational kinship behaviour. We are not dealing with any particular social group in the two units on kinship system in North and South India. As a result, we are unable to characterise familial behaviour. Instead, we look at the chain of gift giving and receiving among relatives to better comprehend the kinship system's behavioural features. This talk gives us an insight of how kinship groupings interact and what kinship duties different kin people play.



Q2) ‘Kinship studies in India represent the diversity of India as a country’. Discuss. (20)

Ans) Kinship studies in India reflect the country's variety and the differences in kinship organisation from region to region. The work of western anthropologists like Malinowski and Rivers impacted Indian anthropologists. Kinship was one of the primary fields of research during the 1940s and 1970s, led by Ghurye, Srinivas, Kapadia, Shah, Gore, and Karve, to mention a few. Kinship was rarely explored in isolation, but rather in the context of the village, caste, and religion.


She classified India into four broad zones based on language to better comprehend kinship in the country: north, south, east, and central. She admitted that kinship behaviour and patterns are not uniform across the region and might vary from village to village and caste to caste.


Karve identifies the following key characteristics of kinship organisation:

North Zone

She observed that there are phrases for blood relations and terms for affinal relations in this zone of north India. Primary terms exist for three generations of immediate relatives, and one generation's terminology are not interchangeable with those of another. Brahmanas and other upper castes in north India follow the four-gotra (sasan) rule, which involves avoiding the gotras of one's father, mother, grandmother, and maternal grandmother. However, some intermediate castes and the majority of lower castes shun two gotras: father and mother.


Central Zone

In terms of family arrangement, Karve claims that the North and Central zones are strikingly similar. Marriage is exogamous, yet she provides the example of Gujarat, where some practise marriage with the mother's brother (mama) and the practise of levirate (marrying the brother of dead hus-band). Karve further points out that some caste groups, such as the Marathas and Kunbis, use both the dowry and bride price systems. The Maharashtra kinship organisation, she writes, demonstrates the effect of the north and south zones.


South Zone

The Southern zone is fascinating because it displays a kinship pattern that is not found in the North or Central zones. The southern areas are difficult to analyse since they are dominated by patrilocal and patrilineal systems, as well as matrilineal and matrilocal systems in some locations. In the south, the favoured marriage system is among cross cousins, which means that the offspring of brothers and sisters marry; that is, an ego's (the person in question) mother's brothers children or father's sisters children.


Thus, in the South Indian kinship system, there is no rigid separation between family of procreation and family of marriage, as there is in the North and Central Indian kinship systems. The bilateral kinship relationships of brother and sister are emphasised in South Indian kinship through their children.


The Eastern Zone

A variety of Austro-Asian tribes live in the area. All Mundari language speakers come from patrilineal and patrilocal households. Cross-cousin marriage is common among the Ho and Santhal. They cannot marry their daughters till the father's sister or the mother's brother is alive. Cross-cousin marriage is a rare occurrence due to this situation. Many tribes, such as the Ho and Munda, have exogamous totemistic groups, in which marriage must take place outside the totemic group or clan.


Bride price is a custom practised by several tribes. Matrilineal communities, such as the Nayars of Kerala, exist in this zone. Unlike them, however, the husband and wife live together in their own tiny household, and the property is inherited by the youngest daughter. Clan exogamy exists among the Khasis. Marriages between parallel cousins are prohibited. Cross-cousin marriages are also uncommon.



Assignment B



Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.


Q3) How is family defined in kinship studies? (10)

Ans) The family is the most fundamental unit of social organisation, and it is difficult to conceive human civilization functioning without it. The family has long been regarded as a universal social institution and an inextricably linked component of human society. According to Burgess and Lock, a family is a group of people who are linked by marriage, blood, or adoption and form a single home, interacting in their social roles as husband and wife, mother and father, brother and sister, and forming a common culture. The family, according to G.P. Murdock, is a social organisation characterised by shared living quarters, economic cooperation, and reproduction. It consists of at least two adults of both sexes who are in a socially acceptable sexual relationship, as well as one or more children who are the sexually cohabiting adults' own or adopted offspring.


According to Nimkoff, a family is a more or less long-term relationship between a husband and wife with or without children, or a man or woman alone with children. According to MacIver, a family is a group defined by sex relationships that are precise and long-lasting enough to allow for kid reproduction and raising. Family, according to Kingsley Davis, is a collection of people who are related to one another by consanguinity and are hence related to one another. According to Malinowski, the family is the institution through which a society's cultural traditions are passed down to future generations. This vital role could not be fulfilled unless the relationships with parents and children were based on mutual authority and respect. Families, according to Talcott Parsons, are factories that create human characters.


Q4) What are the distinctive features of Dravidian kinship? (10)

Ans) Selective cousinhood is a feature of the Dravidian kinship system. Children of one's father's brother and children of one's mother's sister are not cousins, but one-step-removed brothers and sisters. Marriage with them is highly outlawed as incestuous since they are consanguineous (Pangali in Tamil). The children of one's father's sister and one's mother's brother, on the other hand, are regarded cousins and possible partners (muraicherugu in Tamil). Marriages between relatives of this type are permitted and encouraged. There is a major difference between cross cousins, who are real cousins, and parallel cousins, who are siblings.


Dravidians, like Iroquois, refer to their father's sister and mother-in-law, as well as their mother's brother and father-in-law, using the same words. In Kannada, there is a distinction between these ties since sodara is added before the and maava to refer to one's father's sister and mother's brother, respectively, even though this phrase is not used in direct address. Because of the respect offered this kinship in Tamil, only one's mother's brother is captioned with thaai before maamaa.


There existed a class of kinship nouns in Proto-Dravidian that only appeared in the possessed construction; this was most likely a syntactic rather than morphological construction. The only personal and reflexive pronouns that appeared as attributes in this construction were plural ones; number differentiation to the possessor was not specified and had to be inferred from the context. Old Tamil, Kota, Gondi, Kolami, Kuwi, and Kurukh provide evidence.


Q5) Write a note on the feminist contributions to kinship studies. (10)

Ans) Feminists in the West were questioning the ideas that underpin the patriarchal nuclear family, therefore they looked to anthropology for instances of other arrangements from non-western cultures. Households, domestic arrangements, marriage, procreation, childbirth, and other kinship features were, of course, central to gender research. As a result, one of the first questions that came up was whether family and gender could be considered separate analytic domains. The study of kinship was attacked not only by feminists and gender specialists, but also by those who saw it as a minor topic in comparison to politics or religion. Studies of symbolic systems and resistance politics, rather than kinship, warranted a higher priority for these researchers.


There was also a concern that the arid arguments among kinship theorists were contributing to their studies' marginalisation. Feminist anthropology is divided into three waves, just as feminism is divided into many movements. These currents of thinking, on the other hand, are not exactly chronological, with one terminating just as the other was beginning. In fact, despite beliefs from the third movement in feminist anthropology, theories from the second wave are still relevant today. However, presenting the three waves in terms of their foci is still useful (Gellner and Stockett, 2006). From 1850 to 1920, the first wave aimed to include women's voices in ethnography. What little ethnographic data there was on women was frequently made up of tales from male informants relayed by male ethnographers.



Assignment C



Write a note on the following in about 100 words each.


Q6) Exogamy (6)

Ans) Exogamy is the practise of marrying outside one's social group. The group defines the scope and breadth of exogamy, as well as the norms and enforcement techniques that ensure its continuation. Dual exogamy is a sort of exogamy in which two parties regularly swap wives. In social science, exogamy is defined as a combination of two interconnected factors: biological and cultural. The union of nonblood relatives is known as biological exogamy, and it is governed by incest legislation. Marriage outside of a specific cultural group is known as exogamy, and marriage within a social group is known as endogamy. The rule of exogamy's purpose is to foster communication between families and to incorporate them into a larger social framework.


Q7) Polygamy (6)

Ans) Polygamy refers to the marriage of more than one partner at the same time, and it can be either Polygyny (one husband with two or more wives) or Polyandry (one husband with two or more wives) (one wife with two or more husbands). While monogamy is legal in all societies, polygamy in the form of polygyny is desirable in a number of them. Based on an analysis of 283 cultures, Murdock discovered that 193 of them practised polygyny, 43 were monogamous, and only two practised polyandry. Some polygamous societies have preferential rules for choosing wives and spouses. In some cultures, men marry their wives' sisters, a practise known as sororal polygyny. Fraternal polyandry, in which the woman's husbands are brothers, is by far the most frequent among polyandrous societies.


Q8) Incest Taboo (6)

Ans) The most fundamental regulation governing mating is the law of incest, which prevents sexual relations between specific kinds of people. In the Western world, incest is described as the sexual relationship between parents and children, as well as between siblings. In contrast, Evans-use Pritchard's of the Nuer idea of 'rual' for incest restricted sexual relations between members of the same clan, cognates for up to six generations, and men and women who married other males of his lineage. The underlying idea of incest rule, whether defined narrowly or generally, is that it indicates that members who are prohibited from having sexual relations are also prohibited from marrying.


Q9) Descent (6)

Ans) The biological links between persons in society that are socially recognised. Every community considers the reality that all offspring and children are descended from their parents and that parents and children have biological links. The term "descent" refers to the process of tracing one's ancestors. Unilateral descent is divided into three types: patrilineal, which follows only the father's line; matrilineal, which follows only the mother's side; and ambilineal, which follows either the father's or the mother's side, depending on the circumstances. Each of these periods has three stages. The initial phase of the classical period is marked by Henry Maine and Lewis Henry Morgan's formulation of new models of descent. Some anthropologists of the time, most notably John F. McLennan, altered and reformulated these concepts.


Q10) Family of choice (6)

Ans) Within the LGBT community, sex positive BDSM communities, groups of veterans, supportive communities overcoming physical or substance abuse, and friend groups who have little to no contact with their biological parents, family of choice, also known as chosen family, found family, kith and kin, or Hanai family, is common. It is a collection of people in a person's life who fulfil the traditional role of family as a support system. The concept distinguishes between a person's "family of origin" (their biological family or the family in which they were reared) and those who actively fulfil that ideal role.


Apart from assisting heterosexual couples who require assisted reproduction due to a medical problem, egg and sperm donation also allows homosexual couples to become parents. Donors have helped single parents and same-sex couples build the families of their dreams. As a result, parenting culture has become less prescriptive and more flexible. Men and homosexuals who were previously barred from starting a family now have the opportunity to do so. Simultaneously, women who were destined to reproduce were given the option of not reproducing.

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