Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bilinear Kin Groups

Kin groups are the complex products of the combined operation of Double Descent Organization and Dual organization.In consonance with the double descent organization there are patrilineal groups and matrilineal groups.

Each of these discrete unilineal descent groups are only two in number according to the moiety organization.The patri-moieties and the matri-moieties get super-imposed on one another to produce Bilinear kin groups.

The combined influence of patrilineal descent and matrilineal descent in a bilinear system operates in such a way that it includes only those patri-kin who are also matri-kin and excludes those patri-kin who are not matri-kin and vice-versa.

Complex Unilineal Structures

Double Descent
Double descent affilates an individual with a group of kin who are related to him/her at the same time through both his/her father and mother including only the patrilineal kin of her/his father and the matrilineal kin of her/his mother.

A double descent system is thus a discrete combination of unilineal affiliation. The people in the double descent system use patrilineal descent for certain purposes and matrilineal descent for certain other purposes.The Ashanti tribe of West Coast Africa and the Yako tribe of Nigeria have double descent systems.

Among the Ashanti the matriline determines residence and it is the matrilineal group which is the land-owning unit.The political organization also had its roots here.On the other hand for the people it is the patri line which is the source if their spirit or soul.This is where the religious organization has its base. Thus while the matrilineal group is concerned with the secular space the patrilineal group is concerned with the religious sphere.

Bilateral Descent
Another complex structure is bilateral descent.In societies where kinship is determined on the basis of father and mother,it is known as bilateral descent.In a very few societies bilateral descent is prevalent.Descent normally does not go beyond 5-6 generations.When descent is traced not directly then such a kinship is known as collateral kinship and the members of such family are known as collateral kins.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Types of Unilineal Descent Groups

Lineage is a kin group that consists of members who are the unilineal descendants of a common ancestor whose identity is traceble.A lineage is generally does not include members belonging to more than five generations.

Clan is a kin group that consists of members who are the unilineal descandents of a common ancestor whose identity is forgotten and hence remains fictitous.A clan is thus a larger kin group than the lineage and includes members belonging to many generations.

Phratry is a very large kin group which consists of some linked clans and which appears in a combination of more than two such equivalent groups in a society.

Moiety is when a society is divided only into two equal halves then each half is called a moiety.Each moiety consists of several linked clans and lineages.Such a division of society into two halves is usually known as dual organization.

Simple Unilineal Structure

Patrilineal descent affiliates an individual with a group of kin who are related to him through his father alone.Thus in patrilineal systems, the children in each generation belong to the descent group of their father their father in turn belongs to the descent group of his father and so on.Although a man's sons and daughters are all members of the same descent group,affiliation to that group is transmitted only by the sons.The term agnatic is often used for referring to transmission of descent in the male line.

Matrilineal descent affiliates an individual with a group of kin who are related to her through her mother alone.Thus in matrilineal systems the children in each generation belong to the descent group of her mother;their mother in turn belongs to the descent group of her mother and so on.Although mother's sons and daughters are all members of the same descent group affiliation to that group is transmitted only by the daughters.The term uterine is often used for referring to transmissions of descent in the female line.

Both patrilineal and matrilineal rules of descent are unilineal rules because an individual reckons descent through linkages with members of exclusively one sex only- either male only or female only.In a society with unilineal descent the people refer themselves as belonging to a particular unilineal descent group because they believe all the members of that particular group to be related by virtue of common descent.

Political Aspect of Kinship

There is a complex relationship between kinship and the political ties.Morgan says that while kinship regulates the society,political order regulates the state.In some primitive communities the political relations are expressed in terms of kinship and the manipulation of kinship may serve as the means for political strategy.

Formation of groups based on unilineal descent and the external relations based on exogamous matrimonial relations involve political relations. However the ties between kinship and political elements are so close in primitive society that unless some criteria is found distinction may be difficult.

The lineage segments and the lineage has varying relations ranging between conflict to alliance and territorial orgnization which determines their political role.Descent groups and the territorial divisions both contribute towards determination of political field and either of it may prevail depending upon the stage of acculturation of the tribe.


Descent is the sociological affiliation of children to their parents.The reckoning of descent is said to be a cultural rule.A rule of descent affiliates an individual with a particular group of kin through known or presumed common ancestory.Descent rules determine group membership,inheritance of property and succession to titles and offices.A rule of descent affiliates an individual with a particular group of kin with whom he is especially intimate and to whom he is privileged to turn first for certain kinds of services including support and help that he cannot demand of other kin.

Each society has devised its own means and ways of reckoning descent.Kin groups are broadly divided as unilineal and non unilineal.The term cognatic is generally used to refer to non- unilineal descent groups in an attempt to avoid negative terminology and employ positive connotation.The unilineal descent systems may be further classified into simple and complex structures.The former comprises of Patrilineal and Matrilineal structures while the latter comprises of double descent groups and bilinear kin groups.The non-unilineal or cognatic descent system may either be ambilineal or bilateral.

Rules of Exogamy and Endogamy

In all the cultures and societies marriage is not entirely of free choice because the institution of marriage is socially derived and socially sanctioned.Every society places certain limitations on the range of persons from among whom spouses may be chosen.There are two major rules of marriage that are almost always present in all societies.They are exogamy and endogamy.

Exogamy is the social rule that requires an individual to marry outside a specific culturally defined social group of which she/he is a member.The universal nuclear family is always exogamous.It is even said sometimes that exogamy results from the effects of the incest prohibitions.The social group beyond which marriage is required to take place may either be a lineage or a clan or a phatry or a moiety.Thus the exogamous unit is always a subdivision of a large society.Exogamous practices serve to enhance and improve sociability among people by connecting groups of people.

Endogamy is the social rule that requires an individual to marry within a specific culturally defined social group of which he/she is member.

The occurence of endogamy is not as common as exogamy.There is no particular universal type of social group to which the endogamous rule applies unlike exogamy.The function of endogamy is probably to regulate marriage in a way that preserve the cultural identity of a group.

A classic case of endogamy within the Indian subcontinent is caste endogamy.Persons who are members of a caste group are required to select their marital partners from the same caste group.Endogamous caste marriages are supported,reinforced and rationalized by ritual explanations which are in turn manifest in everyday behavioral patterns.Concepts of physical pollution are related to the caste endogamy.A person of a higher caste who comes into physical contact with a person of a lower caste becomes polluted the severity of the pollution being dependent upon the relative rank of two castes.Endogamy with its reinforcing concepts such as pollution helps to set one group apart from others.

Examples of endogamy can be seen among ethnic groups within larger societies.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Incest Prohbition

Incest refers to sexual intercourse between persons who are socially prohibited as partners in sexual union.Universally the sexual relations between father and daughter,mother and son and brother and sister are all incestuous. In every known society and culture there are rules prohibiting incestuous unions.These prohibitions are called incest taboos.

Extension of incest taboos beyond the nuclear family takes different forms in different societies.As far as Consanguineal relatives are concerned significant differences between societies in the extension of incest taboos begins with first cousins.Several societies prefer marriages with cross cousins which automatically nullifies the incest taboos for them.Beyond secondary relatives extensions of incest taboos follow the course of the rule of descent.Incest prohibitions can ramify symmetrically and equally along all lines of Consanguineal connection like bilateral descent or they can extend asymmetrically and unequally like matrilineal or patrilineal descent along Consanguineal connections through one sex only.

As far as extension of taboos to Affinal relatives is concerned it takes on three forms.The first includes certain Affinal relatives like wife's mother and son's wife for whom special factors lead to the prohibition of sex relations and marriage and to the strengthening of these taboos through rules of avoidance.The second category includes Affinal relatives who happen in consequence pf the characteristics of the social structure of the society in question to be members of the same Consanguineal kin group as Ego.The third category of Affinal relatives includes those who belong to the same Consanguineal kin groups as Ego's spouses.

In certain societies where definite rules against incest exist for the people as a whole unions within the prohibited degrees are permitted for certain people like the chiefs or others of high rank under special circumstances.

Concept of Kinship

Kinship is one of the universals in human society.The organization of kinship is based on the recognition and implementation of relationship derived from descent and marriage.These relationships are constructed and cemented between relatives or kins in an orderly manner.Every individual in every society is a kin and has a kin.Kinship is both involuntary and voluntary.It plays an important role in the socio-cultural life of people of defining kin through its nomenclature or terminology and by regulating interrelationships or behavior.

Primary kin is a person who belongs to the same nuclear family as ego.There are eight primary kin including father,mother,brother,sister in the family of orientation and husband,wife,son,daughter in the family of procreation.

A secondary kin is the primary kin of ego's primary kin.There are potentially 33 kinds of secondary kin: Father's father,father's mother,father's brother,father's sister,father's wife or step mother,father's son or half brother,father's daughter,mother's father,mother's mother,mother's brother,mother's sister,mother's husband,monther's son,mother's daughter,brother's wife,brother's son,brother's daughter,sister's husband,sister's son,sister's daughter,wife's brother,wife's father,wife's mother,wife's sister,wife's son,wife's daughter,son's wife,son's son,son's daughter,daughter's husband,daughter's son and daughter's daughter.

A tertiary kin is the primary kin of a secondary kin.There are 151 possible tertiary kin including eight great grandparents,eight first cousins,the spouses of all uncles,aunts,nephews and nieces and others.

Consanguineal kin is a person who is related through blood ties such as father,mother,brother,sister,son and daughter.

Affinal kin is a person who is related through marriage such as spouse,spouse's parents and spouse's siblings.

A Lineal kin is a person who is related by a direct line of descent such as father,father's father,son and son's son.

A Collateral kin is a person who is related indirectly through the mediation of another relative such as father's brother,mother's sister,father's sister,mother's brother,father's brother's children,mother's sister's children and so on.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some laws related to Evolutionary Biology

Dollo's law is a general statement of the irreversibility of evolution that an organism cannot be back to its ancestor's condition.

Cope's law is that the degree of survival of species is directly related to the extent to which the species remains unspecialized and in the main line of evolutionary development and correlatively the extent to which it does not enter into a specialized branch of development.

Gause's law is that two species having the same ecological requirments cannot continue to occupy indefinitely the same habitat.The word indefinitely is important as long as there is enough food for everyone two species may live together.A time will come when there is not enough food for all then one species will supplant the other because it is unlikely that both species will be exactly alike in their efficiency in utilizing the food supply or in more general terms will have exactly the same degree of adaptation to the environmental space shared by both.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution

This theory is based on studies of population genetics,systematics and researches in molecular genetics since 1920s.

Stebbins has given five processes as major sources of variations in his book The Process of Organic Evolution.
1.Gene Mutation-.
2.Changes in chromosome structure and number
3.Genetic recombination
4.Natural selection

Mutations are recessive;randomness of mutation is due toits random adaptiveness:mutational effect must be slight.Severe mutational impact will cause great disharmony and danger to survival.Many mutations and their recombinations are required for the departure from one species to another with several inversions and translocations. The guiding factor is gene-environment interaction.

Chromosomal structural changes are delections,duplications,inversions and translocations.THe position effect is due to these factors.

Genetic recombination is the combination and permutation of different alleles it provides great variations;recombination enhances the effect of selective mutation.

Natural selection operates upon variations and sort fit populations,reject the unfit.Selection may be of gene,gene locus,locus groups,chromosome,genome and thus set megaevolutionary process to come into action.The rate of selection fluctuate depending upon the change in environment and the introduction or ouster of another compelling allele.Fitness is due to structural adaptivness which provides better exploitation of resources and reproductive success that enable courtship,mating,fertilization etc

Isolation arisis due to environmental aspects which are spatial,environmental and reproductive isolating mechanisms.Spatial isolation is characteristic of local population,local races and geographical races.Reproductive isolation is characteristic of biological species.Ecological isolation is a universal feature of the species.

Organic Evolution

Theories of Evolution
Pre-Darwinism Period
According to Judas Christian the world was only a few thousand years old.The dominant Western view of the 17th and 18th centuries held that God and all his creations were locked in natural hierarchy.This hierarchy placed humans above rocks,plants and animals and below spiritual beings.Each creature in the chaing of beings is said to have been created separatelyby God's divine power.In the 18th century Carolus Linnaeus classified plants and animals.He placed humans in the same order as apes and monkeys viz primates.He did not suggest an evolutionary relationship between human and apes.He mostly accepted the notion that all species were created by God.But his classification scheme provided a background for the idea that humans,apes and monkeys had a common ancestor.According to Jean Lamarck the physical adaptations of an organism to its environment were transmitted to its offspring,the cumulative result being the development of new species after many generations.

Darwinism Period
In 1859 Charles Darwin published in the Origin of Species his theory backed by facts.His key idea was natural selection.He argued that all living beings tend to produce more offspring than can survive within the limitations of food and space available.Those offspring vary among themselves in many ways.Overpopulation leads to a struggle for existence.Variations result in some individuals being fit thus they live longer and produce more offspring and the advantages which contribute to survival are transmitted to the offspring.Thus progressive improvement of each species is achieved and a high degree of fitness is possessed by most of the surviving individuals.

Post Darwinism

Darwin's theory came for some critism particularly as a result of theory of genetics.Gregor Mendel experimented on garden peas.He found that when he mated long and short stemmed peas all the peas gave rise to long stems.The results gave rise to the notion that all the traits tall and short resulted from definite and different particles which persist from generation to generation.It can be inferred that each cell contain two pieces of genetic material giving the trait of length of the stem.In some the trait of long dominates the short which is recessive.Mendel's units of heredity are now called genes.He concluded that these units occured in pairs for each trait and that offspring inherited one unit of the pair from each parent.The genes of higher organisms are located on rod like bodies called chromosomes within the nucleus of the cell.Chromosomes also usually occur in pairs.Each gene carries a set of instructions encoded in its chemical structure.In 1953 Biologist James Watson and British chemist Francis Crick proposed that DNA is a long two stranded molecule shaped like a double helix.Of the various schools of evolutionary thought is the observation of mutations in plants by De Vries.He suggested that evolution arises through mutations instead of slight cumulative.

New Stone Age

After 10,000 BC a series of technological and social changes occured making the Neolithic or New Stone age.As the world climate became drier and warmer humans learned to cultivate plants.This encouraged the growth of permanent settlements.Animals were domesticated.Manufacture of pottery and cloth began.These techniques led to social complexity and accelerated mankind's ability to handle the environment. Sites in North,Central and South America ,South eastern Europe and the Middle East show evidences of neolithic culture.Dates near 6000-3000 BC have been given for Eastern and South Asian,Western European and sub-Saharan African Neolithic remains.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Culture in Prehistoric Ages

The prehistoric period saw variety of cultural modes in tool making,food,shelter and probably social arrangements and spiritual expression as humans adapted themselves to different geographical and climatic zones and levels of knowledge grew manifold.

Fire was used for heating cooking by 4,65,000 years.Fire hardened wooden spears weighed and set with small stone blades were fashioned by big game hunters 400,000 years ago in Germany.

Scraping tools found at certain sites suggest the treatment of skins for clothing.Human ancestors even learnt to navigate in boats over open water.The earliest bone tools were developed 80,000 years ago in the Congo basin to catch fishes.

Rock images are found at several sites in Africa,Europe with naturalistic wall paintings.They also point towards ritual burial.A variety of musical instruments including bone flutes with bored holes have been found in Paleolithic age going back as back as 80,000 years.

Basic Tool making traditions

Anthropologists recognize five basic tool making traditions as arising and often co-existing from more than 2.5 million years ago.

The chopper tradition- known as Oldowan found in Africa producing crude shopping tools and simple flake tools.

The biface or hand axe tradition found in Africa,Western and Southern Europe and South Asia producing pointed hand axes,chipped on both faces for cutting.

The flake tradition found in Africa and Europe producing small cutting and flaking tools.

The blade tradition a more efficient technology characteristic of the Upper Paleolithic found across Eurasia to Siberia and North Africa producing many usable blades from a single stone.

The microlithic tradition found throughout the inhabited world producing specialized small tools for use as projectile points in carving softer materials and in making more complex tools.

Human Evolution

The precise origins of Homo Sapiens the species to which all human beings belong are subject to speculation based on increasing number of fossils,on genetic and anatomical studies and on interpretation of geological records.Most scientists believe that humans evolve from apes like primate ancestors in a process started millions of years ago.

Recent theories trace the first homonid to Africa where at least homonids appeared to 5 to 7 million years before. The first line was Australopithecus a social animal that lived from 5 million to 3 million years.The second human line was Homo Hobilis a large brained homonid which walked straight.They appeared some 2.5 million years lived in semi permanent camps had food gathering economy.

Home Erectus the nearest ancestor to humans appeared in Africa 2 million years and began to spread in Asia and Europe.Its skeletal system was similar to that of modern humans.They hunted,learned to control fire and may had some primitive language skills.

Brain development of Homo Sapiens occurred between 500,000 and 50,000 in Africa.Evidence of homonids in Siberia dates as early as 300,000.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Changes in Religion

Changes in religious belief and practice can be associated with the gradual evolution of a society from one social form to another.Over the past few centuries the impetus to change has been contact between different societies.European expansion throughout the world was not merely a political or economic conquest it included an attempt to conquer the minds of the subjugated people also through religion.

In many settings conquest has destroyed all or part of the existing religion of a people.This led to sometimes adopting the beliefs and practices of the conquerors especially when the conqueror success is associated with the superior strength of their gods.The religion which came to forefront was a result of syncretism or the conscious adoption of an alien idea or practice in terms of some indigenous system.

Spanish conquest of Central Mexico put an end to public worship of the primary gods,destroyed the priesthood and undermined the faith on the power of the Gods and the truth of religious teachings thus shattering the focal values of Aztec religion and culture.This didnt lead the Aztec to accept Christianity and instead hovered towards hatred.Slowly things began to change once the missionaries initiated education for the children.In these schools children were punished ,rewarded for outward adherence to the new faith.Older people began to add the images of Jesus and Mary to their collection of idols for worship.Catholics began to include modified Aztec traditional songs and dances to the catholic teachings.A crucial change led to widespread acceptance of Catholicism followed by setting up of image of Mary at the site of shrine dedicated to Aztec earth goddess.The Indian Catholics began to develop their own version of Catholicism.

Traditional indigenous religions do not always collapse or suffer because of conquest.People are able to retain something of their religion. In fact it serve as source of strength to the people.In Australia in spite of destruction of aboriginal religion at most places ,in south west Aborigines were able to cling to few of their beliefs and practices into the 20th century.Occasional ceremonies were held on the outskirts of the cities.


According to some Anthropologists, animism instead of marking the earliest stages in the evolution of religion was a later development in the history of religion.They are of the view that in the pre-animistic stage,the religious belief of primitive people consisted of people's view that every thing had life and so animate.

The animatist theory of Marett known as Manaism put forth that primitive people believed in some non-material,impersonal and understandable supernatural power that was defined in animate and inanimate objects.This theory of Marett is known as animatism or manaism.

The name manaism is after the term mana used by Melanesians to designate the force in animate and inanimate objects.Bonga among the Ho tribe in India is similar to Marett's theory of primitive religion.


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