Kinship in American and Bedouin Culture

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Americans believe themselves to be just as related to their father’s side of the family as to their mother’s side (Lavenda, p. 157). They use bilateral descent to determine who their relatives are. The system used to determine who belongs in a person’s family is formed around the particular individual and includes all the people linked to that individual through kin of both sexes. These people form a group only because of their connection to the central person. Each person within an individual’s bilateral kindred also has his or her own separate group of kindred formed around themselves. This system encourages a widely extended kinship, and allows for broad networks of people who are somehow related to one another to be formed. In each society, being related by blood is an important concept. But family is not purely limited to those who are genetically related to you (Lavenda, p. 156). In both societies marriage allows for family bonds to be formed between individuals who are not directly related through blood. The family members connected to an individual through marriage are called affines (Lavenda, p. 163). Affines become a part of the family once they are married into it. In American society affines usually make up the distant relatives and extended family that a bilateral lineage brings. Since men stay to provide for a household and women leave to marry and provide for that household, the woman’s family is considered the affines. The concept of affines is important in both societies because it allows for an extended amount of alliances and family ties. Both Bedouin culture and American culture have very different outlooks on the importance of kin. Their outlook is defined purely by their society as a whole. American culture is not one that has been around for a very long time. The United States was created based on the concept that they needed a change. They wanted to break away from the control of monarchy and established America on very individualistic...
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