Matrilineal Societies

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  • Topic: Matrilineality, Kinship, Patrilineality
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  • Published : April 2, 2011
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MATRILINEAL SOCIETIES
Sociologyindex, Sociology Books 2011, Matrilineal Descent, Patrilineal Descent Matrilineal societies are those societies in which descent is traced through mothers rather than through fathers. In matrilineal societies, property is often passed from mothers to daughters and the custom of matrilocal residence may be practiced. In matrilineal societies, the descendants of men are their sister's children and not their own, who belong to their mother's matrilineage. Matrilineage is sometimes associated with polyandry or group marriage where women have a variety of sexual partners and lines of male descent are uncertain. Ancient societies are known to have recognised matrilineal descent. Matriliny is not the mirror image of patriliny. Matrilineal societies differ from both patrilineal and bilateral societies in that the institution of marriage tends to be, relatively weak (Schneider and Gough 1961, Goode 1963). 

In a gerontocratic matrilineal society, women's influence and prestige tended to increase with age and were usually expressed in informal settings, although there were offices of formalised informality such as "mothers" of matrilineages. Matriliny required the subordination of marriage and conjugal duties to loyalty to and participation in the descent group. This, combined with economic activities, farming, artisan work, and trading, gave women considerable independence. Women (like elders) had prestige in the matrilineal home town, where black stools symbolised the "seat of power." (Bartle). 

In a matrilineal society, women generally have a greater autonomy in terms of sexuality and reproduction than their counterparts in male dominated societies. 

The woman in a matrilineal society represents the clan and her children carry on the name of her clan. [pic][pic][pic][pic]

Land Inheritance and Schooling in Matrilineal Societies: Evidence from Sumatra - Agnes R. Quisumbing, and Keijiro Otsuka Abstract: This paper explores statistically the implications of the shift from communal to individualized tenure on the distribution of land and schooling between sons and daughters in matrilineal societies, based on a Sumatra case study. The inheritance system is evolving from a strictly matrilineal system to a more egalitarian system in which sons and daughters inherit the type of land that is more intensive in their own work effort. While gender bias is either non-existent or small in land inheritance, daughters tend to be disadvantaged with respect to schooling. The gender gap in schooling, however, appears to be closing for the generation of younger children. - capri.cgiar.org/wp/capriwp14.asp

Gough, K. (1961) "The modern disintegration of matrilineal descent groups," in D. M. Schneider and K. Gough (eds.) Matrilineal Kinship, Berkeley, U. Calif., pp. 631-54 

Oppong, C. (1974) Marriage Among a Matrilineal Elite, Cambridge University Press. Matrilineal Society in India - Dr. Madhumita Das
When most of the people in the world follow the patrilineal system, there exist a few groups here and there who believed to be the descendants of Japheth (son of Noah), and are followers of the matrilineal system (Syiemlieh, 1994). At the global level, the existence of matrilineal society is found among the tribes of African countries, in some part of Southeast Asia and among three groups of India. It is the Minangkabaus of West Sumatra, Indonesia, comprising the largest ethnic group in the world who follow a matrilineal system (Tanius, 1983). In Indian context, the matrilineal social system is found only among small pockets of south the and northeast India. The Nairs and Mappilles in Kerala, the tribal groups of Minicoy Island and the Khasis and the Garos of Meghalaya are the followers of matrilineal system. However, the matrilineal system of the African countries differs considerably from that of the Southeast Asian groups. Even within India, the system differs from one group to another...
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