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Old Tuesday, March 17, 2015
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Default Marriage Family and Kinship

Marriage Family and Kinship

Marriage Types and Norms

Marriage is one of the universal social institutions established to control and regulate the life of mankind.

It is closely associated with the institution of family
Infact both the institutions are complementary to each other.
It is an institution with different implications in different cultures.

Its purposes, functions and forms may differ from society to society but it is present everywhere as an institution.

Robert Lowie describes marriage as a relatively permanent bond between permissible mates.

For Horton and Hunt marriage is the approved social pattern whereby two or more persons establish a family.

Types of marriages


It is a form of marriage in which one man marries more than one woman at a given time. It is of two types --- Sororal polygyny and non sororal polygyny


It is the marriage of one woman with more than one man.
It is less common than polygyny. It is of two types---- Fraternal Polyandry and non fraternal polyandry.

It is a form of marriage in which one man marries one woman .It is the most common and acceptable form of marriage.

Serial monogamy:
In many societies individuals are permitted to marry again often on the death of the first spouse or after divorce but they cannot have more than one spouse at one and the same time.

Straight monogamy:
In this remarriage is not allowed.


It is a rule of marriage in which the life-partners are to be selected within the group.
It is marriage within the group and the group may be caste, class, tribe, race, village, religious group etc.
We have caste endogamy, class endogamy, sub caste endogamy, race endogamy and tribal endogamy etc.In caste endogamy marriage has to take place within the caste. Brahmin has to marry a Brahmin. In sub caste endogamy it is limited to the sub caste groups.


It is a rule of marriage in which an individual has to marry outside his own group. It prohibits marrying within the group.
The so-called blood relatives shall neither have marital connections nor sexual contacts among themselves.

Muslim Marriage
In the Muslim community marriage is universal for it discourages celibacy.
Muslims call their marriage Nikah.
Marriage is regarded not as a religious sacrament but as a secular bond.

The bridegroom makes a proposal to the bride just before the wedding ceremony in the presence of two witnesses and a maulavi or kazi.
The proposal is called ijab and its acceptance is called qubul.

It is necessary that both the proposal and its acceptance must take place at the same meeting to make it a sahi Nikah

The run-away marriages called kifa when the girls run away with boys and marry them on their own choice are not recognized.

Marrying idolaters and slaves is also not approved.

There is also provision of preferential system in mate selection.

The parallel cousins and cross cousins are allowed to get married.

Marriage that is held contrary to the Islamic rules is called batil or invalid marriage.

Meher or dower is a practice associated with Muslim marriage.

It is a sum of money or other property which a wife is entitled to get from her husband in consideration of the marriage.

Iddat is the period of seclusion for three menstrual periods for a woman after the death /divorce by her husband to ascertain whether she is pregnant or not.
Only after this period she can remarry.

Muslim marriage can be dissolved in the following ways:

Divorce as per the Muslim law but without the intervention of the court:
They are of two types-Kula where divorce is initiated at the instance of the wife and Mubarat where initiative may come either from the wife or from the husband.

Talaq represents one of the ways according to which a Muslim husband can give divorce to his wife as per the Muslim law by repeating the dismissal formula thrice. The talaq may be affected either orally by making some pronouncements or in writing by presenting talaqnama.

Divorce as recognized by Shariah Act provides for three forms of divorce:Illa,Zihar and Lian.There is also provision of divorce as per the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939.


The family is a group of persons united by ties of marriage, blood or adoption constituting a single household interacting with each other in their respective social role of husband and wife, mother and father, brother and sister creating a common culture.

The family as a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction.

It includes adults of both sexes at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and one or more children own or adopted of the sexually co-habiting adults.

Nimkoff says that family is a more or less durable association of husband and wife with or without child or of a man or woman alone with children.

Malinowski opined that the family is the institution within which the cultural traditions of a society is handed over to a newer generation.
This indispensable function could not be filled unless the relations to parents and children were relations reciprocally of authority and respect.

According to Talcott Parsons families are factories which produce human personalities.

The family forms the basic unit of social organization and it is difficult to imagine how human society could function without it.
The family has been seen as a universal social institution an inevitable part of human society.

Main characteristics of family

There is no human society in which some form of the family does not appear.Malinowski writes the typical family a group consisting of mother, father and their progeny is found in all communities,savage,barbarians and civilized. The irresistible sex need, the urge for reproduction and the common economic needs have contributed to this universality

Emotional basis:

The family is grounded in emotions and sentiments. It is based on our impulses of mating, procreation, maternal devotion, fraternal love and parental care. It is built upon sentiments of love, affection, sympathy, cooperation and friendship.

Limited size:
The family is smaller in size. As a primary group its size is necessarily limited. It is a smallest social unit.

Formative influence:

The family welds an environment which surrounds trains and educates the child.
It shapes the personality and moulds the character of its members. It emotionally conditions the child.

Nuclear position in the social structure:

The family is the nucleus of all other social organizations.
The whole social structure is built of family units.

Responsibility of the members:
The members of the family has certain responsibilities, duties and obligations.Maclver points out that in times of crisis men may work and fight and die for their country but they toil for their families all their lives.

Social regulation:

The family is guarded both by social taboos and by legal regulations. The society takes precaution to safeguard this organization from any possible breakdown.

Types and forms of the family

On the basis of marriage, family has been classified into three major types:

• Polygamous or polygynous family

• Polyandrous family On the basis of the nature of residence family can be classified into three main forms.

• Family of matrilocal residence

• Family of patrilocal residence

• Family of changing residence

On the basis of ancestry or descent family can be classified into two main types

• Matrilineal family

• Patrilineal family

On the basis of size or structure and the depth of generations family can be classified into two main types.

• Nuclear or the single unit family

• Joint family

On the basis of the nature of relations among the family members the family can be classified into two main types.

• The conjugal family which consists of adult members among there exists sex relationship.

• Consanguine family which consists of members among whom there exists blood relationship- brother and sister, father and son etc


Kinship is the relation by the bond of blood, marriage and includes kindered ones. It represents one of the basic social institutions. Kinship is universal and in most societies plays a significant role in the socialization of individuals and the maintenance of group solidarity. It is very important in primitive societies and extends its influence on almost all their activities.A.R Radcliffe Brown defines kinship as a system of dynamic relations between person and person in a community, the behavior of any two persons in any of these relations being regulated in some way and to a greater or less extent by social usage.

Affinal and Consanguineous kinship

Relation by the bond of blood is called consanguineous kinship such as parents and their children and between children of same parents. Thus son, daughter, brother, sister, paternal uncle etc are consanguineous kin. Each of these is related through blood.

Kinship due to marriage is affinal kinship. New relations are created when marriage takes place. Not only man establishes relationship with the girl and the members of her but also family members of both the man and the woman get bound among themselves. Kinship includes Agnates (sapindas, sagotras); cognates (from mother's side) and bandhus (atamabandhus, pitrubandhus, and matrubandhus).


A descent group is any social group in which membership depends on common descent from a real or mythical ancestor. Thus a lineage is a unilineal descent group in which membership may rest either on matrilineal descent (patrilineage) or on matrilineal descent (matrilineage). In a cognatic descent, all descendants of an ancestor\ancestress enjoy membership of a common descent group by virtue of any combination of male or female linkages. However, cognatic descent is sometimes used synonymously with either 'bilateral' or 'consanguine descent.

A clan is a unilineal descent groups the members of which may claim either partilineal (Patriclan) or matrilineal descent (Matriclan) from a founder, but do not know the genealogical ties with the ancestor\ancestress. A phratry is a grouping of clans which are related by traditions of common descent. Mythical ancestors are thus common in clans and phratries. Totemic clans, in which membership is periodically reinforced by common rituals such as sacred meals, have been of special interest to social anthropologists and sociologists of religion. Where the descent groups of a society are organized into two main divisions, these are known as moieties (halves). The analysis of descent groups is crucial for any anthropological study of pre-industrial society, but in most Western industrial societies the principle of descent is not prominent and descent groups are uncommon.

Primary, secondary and tertiary kins

Primary kins:

Every individual who belong to a nuclear family finds his primary kins within the family. There are 8 primary kins- husband-wife, father-son, mother-son, father-daughter, mother-daughter, younger brother-elder brother, younger sister-elder sister and brother-sister.

Secondary kins:

Outside the nuclear family the individual can have 33 types of secondary relatives. For example mother's brother, brother's wife, sister's husband, father's brother.

Tertiary kins:

Tertiary kins refer to the secondary kins of our primary kins.For example wife's brother's son, sister's husband's brother and so on. There are 151 types of tertiary kins.

Kinship Usages:

Kinship usages or the rules of kinship are significant in understanding kinship system. They serve two main purposes:

• They create groups or special groupings or kin. For example- family extended family, clan etc.

• Kinship rules govern the role of relationships among the kins.

Kinship usage provides guidelines for interaction among persons in these social groupings. It defines proper and acceptable role relationships. Thus it acts as a regulator of social life. Some of these relationships are: avoidance, teknonymy, avunculate, amitate, couvades and joking relationship.
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