The term Cognatic means akin to both parents.The underlying principle in cognatic or non-unilineal systems is thus the affiliation of an individual with a group of kin who are related to him/her through both his/her parents,irrespective of whether kinship linkages are traced through the mother or the father.Societies with cognatic kin groups are far less numerous than those with unilineal kin groups.
The kinship systems of Polynesia,Indonesia,Malaysia and Philippines reveal the presence of such cognatic kin groupings.
The cognatic kin groups do not have the discreteness ,the well defined boundaries and the clear-cut membership that the unilineal kin groups have.However several cognatic kin groups show definite patterns of localization and residence based on the presence of their land for cultivation and livelihood.Often this land is owned jointly by all the members and all the descendents of all the members of the group may be granted the right to enjoy its produce.Each cognatic kin group may have its own political set up to manage its economic resources and any conflicts arising from inside or outside the group.The cognatic kin groups may not always have a well-defined exogamous boundary.
The cognatic or Non-Unilineal systems are of two types:
Ambilineal:In an Ambilineal system the affiliation of an individual to his/her kin is left to the choice of an individual whereby he/she may reckon descent from a putative ancestor through any form of linkages with males or females or both.
Bilateral:Bilateral descent affiliates an individual with a group of kin who are related to him/her through both his/her father and mother.Thus these kinsmen may include both the patri and matri kin of her/his father as well as both the matri and patri kin of his/her mother.Such a bilateral kin group invariably will be too large in number and hence each society has definite ways to delimit the recognition of kin upto certain degrees.
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