Kinship: Sociology and Aboriginal People

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Aboriginal societies were admired for their sense of belonging; everybody in their language group was their family. Everybody helped in the raising, care and discipline of children in the group (Bourke and Edwards, 1994. p.97). Kinship took a central role in the structure of Aboriginal communities because it was their main way of organising people and their social relationships (Keen 2004, p.174). It helped the Aboriginal people to know where they stood in regards to social relationships and their behaviour towards every other person (Broom 2002, p.19-20). Aboriginal people coexisted in harmony and lived in a balanced society with the land, animals, and everything living. This essay will highlight that kinship and society in Aboriginal communities were the same thing. It will also show that kinship in contemporary Australia is still relevant but not in the same way, in today’s modern society as it was in, before pre-contact society.

Kinship originates from the Dreaming, ‘The Dreaming’ referred to the Aboriginal people’s Ancestral Beings, past times and everything associated with them. The Dreaming underpinned all Aboriginal society especially the Kinship system. The relationship between kinship systems and the Dreamtime was such that the Aboriginal people developed their kinship systems from their Ancestral Beings who came from the Dreaming onto the land and formed everything and left them specific traditions and rules to be followed (Bourke and Edwards, 1994. p.95). Having the Dreamtime meant that the Aboriginal people followed tradition above all else (Broome, 2001. p.19).

‘Kinship’ is the formal label applied to the ways in which social relations are organised within a holistically conceived system (Edwards, 1998. p.301) Kinship is the cornerstone of all Aboriginal social systems. Kinship is the fine mesh which holds the society together (Berndt, R.M. & C.H, 1981....
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