chapter
Unilineal descent
Pages 1

Radcliffe-Brown classified kinship systems according to how descent was recognized. Two particularly distinctive forms are †patrilineal descent, reckoned through males only, and †matrilineal descent, reckoned only through females. These should not be confused with †patriarchy and †matriarchy, for in both cases official power resides primarily with men; under patriliny a child acquires social status primarily from its father, whereas under matriliny its mother’s brother is the key figure (the *avunculate). Patrilineal descent is more common worldwide, perhaps because of the added complexities involved when men transmit rights to other men in the female line.