Kinship Systems of the San Tribes

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Topics: Family, Marriage
Kinship Systems of the San Tribes
Tara Shoemaker
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Instructor: Chad Goings
October 26, 2010

The kinship system of the San people is not too complicated compared to the western society. When you look at the way the family structure is compiled you can see that is helps strengthen the ties between themselves and neighboring tribes. Everything that they do is help with survival of the family. Most foraging societies consist of a nuclear family setting. When looking how a family is laid out you must pay attention to descent. Descent is the passage of kinship though the parent-child links and the joining of the people into groups. There are two patterns for identifying descent: unilineal and bilateral. When looking at unilineal descent the relationships are followed through the mother and the father. The descent within the bilateral relationship is just as important. Most of all the foraging bands have bilateral descent. A San tribe member can find a blood relative in every tribe that he/she visits. This type of kinship is important if the family is low on resources, they can relocate, find family, and survive until they are once again able to thrive on their own. To have a family member in every band that you travel to, a marriage has had to occur. Marriage between the men and women between the bands helps strengthen the social links. Once again these types of family ties are a survival tool for the bands desolate times. When a man is to consider marriage in the San tribe he must first make sure that the woman he is considering to marry does not have the same name as a parent or sibling. Marrying of a second cousin or closer is also prohibited. By doing this the tribe insures that there is no incest helping create future generations of children that can marry without the high chance of incest. With these rules in place it limits the number of women that can be married though out the region to about 25 percent.



References: Nowark, B. & Laird, P(2010) Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/books/AUANT101.10.1 on October 25, 2010.

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