Kinship rules that affect people’s behavior and people’s
Kinship of the Inuit Culture Ashford University ANT 101 Instructor: Jessie Cohen October 18, 2011 Kinship of the Inuit Culture Kinship, the relationship between individuals, is a cultural universal that is shared by all. These relationships are defined through marriage, descent, or other cultural arrangements. Kinship helps to establish how “people classify each other, the rules that affect people’s behavior and people’s actual behavior” (Nowak & Laird, 2010, sec 4. ). Kinship systems differ between cultures and help to define the unique social organizations within different societies.
Anthropologists have studied various cultures in an effort to understand how individuals within a culture behave toward one another and the effects that kinship has on their lifestyle. For instance, the kinship system of the Inuit has a significant impact on how the culture behaves, lives, and survives in the harsh climates of the Arctic Circle.The Inuit, which are commonly referred to as “Eskimos”, are a foraging society of hunters which rely on the surrounding environment to obtain sustenance. Unlike other foraging societies who rely on both gathering and hunting for provisions, the harsh climate and environment of the Arctic Circle gives little opportunity for gathering. Survival of the Inuit culture is heavily dependent on hunting for provisions; although the summer months bring supplemental provisions through gathering.Unlike horticultural societies, foraging societies contain smaller kinship systems which emphasize the nuclear family as the most important social unit.
Foraging societies such as the Inuit consist of individuals organized into small groups referred to as bands, which in-turn, belongs to nuclear families. Couples in the Inuit culture marry and reside independently from both sides of their family within a nuclear family; nuclear families consist of the mother, father, brother, and sister (Kansas State University KSU, 2010, para. 2).
This size and type of social organization allows bands to asily relocate when necessary, remain flexible and able to adapt to the changing environment in order to sustain their way of living. Although nuclear families are primarily independent of one another, bands share ties with each other through blood and marriage which links individuals to other band members, allowing families to move between bands when necessary (Nada & Warms, 2011, p. 241). In studying kinship, special attention is paid to the aspect of descent which defines the relationship between parent and child (Nowak & Laird, 2010, sec 3. ).
There are several different forms of descent which vary between societies. Descent within foraging societies is known as bilateral descent or often referred to by anthropologists as a kindred. In this type of descent kinship is traced through both the paternal and maternal side of the family. “Key characteristics of bilateral descent groups are that descent is traced equally from both parents, couples live away from their parents, and inheritance is allocated equally between siblings” (Nada & Warms, 2011, p. 242).Bilateral descent groups account for only a small majority of the cultures throughout the world; however it is a common form of kinship in foraging and industrialized societies such as the Western culture.
As with the Inuit culture, the kinship system of the Western culture places the highest emphasis on the nuclear family and is considered to be the most important social unit. Regardless of their differences, societies throughout the world utilize kinship systems to classify individuals within the group, establish acceptable behavior, and actions (Nowak & Laird, 2010, sec 4. ). Although kinship systems are classified and organized differently, it is the relationship among individuals that remains the cultural universal shared by all. References Kansas State University. (2010).
Inuit society. Retrieved from http://ksuanth. wetpaint.
com/page/Inuit%2BSociety Nada, S. , & Warms, R. L. (2011). Cultural anthropology (10th ed. ).
Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning. Nowak, B. , & Laird, P. (2010). Cultural Anthropology. Retrieved from https://content.
ashford. edu/books/AUANT101. 10. 2