chapter  11
44 Pages

Kinship Situations and Concepts

This Chapter and the next are the heart of our study. We have already described people’s general attitudes towards the subject of family and kinship, what people know about their kin and the amount of contact they have with kin. We have also examined the structure of terms by which people call their kin. Now we consider more specifically the meaning of kinship as it is expressed in action. First, we describe the major kinds of situations in which relations with kin are meaningful. Then we isolate and examine two basic themes which appear to underlie many relations with kin-support for oneself, responsibility to the other. Then in the next Chapter we examine the quality of kin relations as demonstrated in different kinds of roles in which individuals are involved, focussing particularly upon relations with members of the natal family compared with those with collateral kin, and upon relations with kin by blood compared with relations with kin by marriage. We also examine the variations in family patterns of kin relationship, including those associated with changes over time.