Kinship as a Mechanism for Social Integrating

Topics: Matrilineality, Kinship, Patrilineality Pages: 3 (1049 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Kinship as a Mechanism for Social Integrating

Joey Rahimi

It is often demonstrated in many anthropological studies that kinship acts as an important means for social integrating in a given society. But is it a fair generalization to say that kinship always functions as a mechanism for social integration?

Kinship refers to the relationships established through marriage or descent groups that has been proven in some societies to lead to social integrating, or the process of interaction with other individuals. When researching the case studies we have explored, I found that two main events that utilized kinship for social integrating were death and marriage.

In the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea, in the northern Kiriwina Island, is where the Trobrianders, studied by Anette Wiener(1988), live. Death in the Trobrianders is a momentous event full of mourning and economical organization. The death of someone is a detailed example of how kinship can lead to social integrating. Wiener explains, " The message of death spreads rapidly to other villages where the dead person has relatives or friends," showing that death is not only uses kinship to integrate individuals, but entire villages too. The Trobrianders are a matrilineal society, meaning that all descent groups and kinship recognition are passed through the mother. They are organize into dalas, matrilineal descent groups and kumilas, one of four named matrilineal clans. During Wiener's fieldwork in the Trobriand Islands, she experienced the death of an old chief, Uwelasi. The preparation of the burial of a dead person is a complicated division of responsibilities. These roles of obligation are filled by those in Uwelasi's dala and his kumila. All these people must come together, from other villages sometimes, to help with he planning of this event. A large part of Uwelasi's death was the distribution of his possessions, this involved the people from his dala assisted by those from his kumila as...
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