Social Anthropology | She Shares

Social Anthropology

By Sarah 0 Comment January 20, 2020

In almost all anthropological writings and discussions, one of the most commonly mentioned words is family, and yet none of them have portrayed a clear and concise meaning. The complex nature of family carries with it a multitude of a sense of connection and relatedness. For some individuals, a family may refer to close member/kin who are not in their residential area, or a household unit comprising of a broader and deeper network of genealogical kinship. The meaning of family may be understood and interpreted differently from persons to persons and according to the way in which the word is applied. In anthropological concept, the same complexity that exists in the common understanding of the term family is still a significant issue of concern (Cole, 2012). However, as new theories of kinships, social structure and gender evolve, it changes the set of assumptions and concepts in both familiar and anthropological aspects. In order to understand and draw the meaning of a family in a broader perspective, it is paramount to discuss and pinpoint the different types of family that exist in anthropological perspective. Moreover, rules governing marriage in a family plays an important role in understanding and defining a family to someone. Also, it is worthwhile to note and understand that the rules and norms of adding a new member to the family and understanding the meaning of various provisions violation in a particular family, in this case, my family will be used as an example to examine what family means.

In anthropological perspective, specific types of family are labeled based on the various congregations of kin. For instance, the conjugal family may be referred as a pair of heterosexual individuals together with the offspring they produce. On the other hand, extended family denotes two or more conjugal-related families (Cole, 2012). The stem family consists of a married couple with unmarried children except one with a spouse and children. In almost all definitions and meaning of a family on anthropological perspective, one aspect that apparently comes out is the identification of a family as the kin and affine living together and sharing a common hearth. The early social theorists defined a family according to its functions. They argued that family was a natural form of a relationship based on a conjugal pair of heterosexual in nature and their offspring. However, based on kinship theories, anthropologists developed a new perspective of a family through cross-cultural analysis (Fortun and Fortun, 2009). In this review, identification of universal feature of the society is critical to the needs of sexuality, consumption; labor and socialization are tabled and addressed.

In order to understand what rules govern a family, it is vital to understand the role kinship play in defining the rules on marriage, adding a new member to the family and the various rules and regulation that exist in a particular family. Kinship is described as a system of recognizing the roles of a family member in a cultural based system and the relationship that defines an individual’s rights, obligations and boundaries of interactions. The tie between family and kinship may be explained through bloodline lineage, adoption or intermarriage and household economies (Cole, 2012). The system of kinship may range from nuclear to tribal family interaction.

Human beings are rule makers and followers of rule by nature; the rules are set aside to create a friendly relationship and enhancing ways of living together without the interference of each other’s rights. The rules define the behavioral pattern of members of the family towards each other and the society. The kinship system sets the rules and norms of a society and other cultural attitudes to adhere (Fortun and Fortun, 2009). Most of my family’s rules are overt in nature, implying that they are openly communicated to us through verbal means. In this view, according to my family’s cultural standards, it is not acceptable to marry any individual related either by blood, adoption or marriage. The rules forbid an individual from marrying either close or distant cousin. In case a member of a family marries either near or distant cousin, he/she is denounced as a member of the family and is considered an outcast. The rules dig further deep by prohibiting marriage between any members of the family related through marriage. In this scenario, if an individual marries from a particular family, then no member of our family is allowed to marry from that family again as they are integrated and considered part of us you can read about these social rules in this anthropology essay.

Moreover, according to my family norms and tradition, one is not allowed to marry someone from a different religion. Religion is considered as part of the family’s culture and should be adhered to at all cost. The main reason as to why we hold religion so important when it comes to marriage is the belief that our faith may be intoxicated and lose its originality (Fortun and Fortun, 2009). Also, no one is permitted to marry from a different ethnic group or race as my family holds the concept/notion that marrying an individual from different ethnic group or race would result in the loss of family purity and originality. The fact that this idea must be followed to the latter brings forth some complexities as we are held in a cocoon and denied the freedom to love and choose. Also, my family believes that we should marry from the same social class or a class higher than ours. The family believes that marrying an individual from the same social class or a class higher than ours will bring forth dignity and respect from the society.

Apart from the rules that govern marriage in my family, there are other guidelines that should be strictly followed when introducing a new member into the family. There are various ways and reasons for introducing a new member in any society. In every family, either extended or nuclear, there are some rules and regulation of doing so. For instance, before introducing and integrating any new member to my family, there are some factors to be considered. Among the factors include the ethnic group of the individual, religion, lineage, and material in possession if any. According to my family rules and cultural believes, before introducing any new member to the family, the family must have a thorough background check on the individual’s family lineage and if there is any form of misconduct that ever took place on his/her descent. The new member of the family should possess similar religious views as ours. Furthermore, the family does not allow the introduction of a new member from different religion since we believe our religion holds the key to a successful family integration.

Also, it further states that every new member to be introduced in the family should belong to our ethnic group. Although there is little sense that comes out of this condition, my family holds it so dear that in case you “mistakenly” introduce a member from a different ethnic group, you are either expelled from the family or passed through a series of psychological torture and alienation. Another factor to consider before introducing a new member into my family is material possession of the individual. According to my family rules and regulation, any member to be introduced should be in possession of something valuable.

According to my family rules and regulations on marriage and introduction of new family members, we believe each control is set aside to streamline the performance and growth of the family, thus violating any of the rules comes at a price. Regarding the rule of marrying an individual of the same religious views, the family explains that breaking this rule may lead to unstable marriage and increases the chances of a possible breakup. On violating the rule of ensuring you marry an individual from the same ethnic group, the family believes that doing this will interfere with the purity of the blood lineage. According to my family beliefs, introducing a member or marrying from a different ethnic group will weaken their resistance and tolerance to certain infections and diseases.

Additionally, the family believes that failing to ensure that the new member introduced into the family is economically stable; it would imply that he/she will be solely dependent on the family for basic needs and other personal items. The family values and traditions hold and support that every member of the society should be solely independent on financial matters. According to the family values, they believe that social class comes in handy with respect and status in the society. Therefore, breaking the rule and getting married to an individual of low class, you will be degrading the family’s respect on the face of the society.

Despite the fact that indeed some of the rules that govern my family are extreme and unethical, I would still support them on specific aspect because some of the rules are meant to create a competent and responsible member of the society. However, certain aspects such as restricting the choice of who I want to marry based on religious difference, social class and ethnic group or “race” may limit my stretch to help some family members. Some of the rules of my family are inapplicable in the 21st century, which makes me ask a lot of questions on their relevance in the modern and evolving world. Given this, I don’t think I can risk my “life” for a family member given the complex nature of rules on marriage, and other aspects of the family.

In a concluding remark, given the nature of family and how rules set may have adverse effects on the life of a family member, it is critical for families to reconsider their stance regarding some of the rules set. The kinship and family values have always been overestimated to certain lengths that disintegrate the society instead of bringing it together. Although some rules are beneficial to family members, certain aspects should be revisited in order to enhance integration into the society. The family should realize that each member has the right to choose and love despite the difference in religion, race and social class of the partner or the member to be integrated into the family.

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