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 4.5). 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.
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