In this chapter, the assertion is that learning a new kinship system is as hard as learning a new language. This is because in different groupings kinship and variables making the kinship varies making it a relatively complicated matter. However kinship has one common denominator, it demonstrates the way one person is related to another person or group of persons. This is a very commonly held beliefs in many cultures. For example, people in my culture; kinship is perceived as all individuals who are related by blood and in some instances related via marriage and other social groupings like clan system. In the chapter is evident that kinship is a product of culture meaning it cultural beliefs and undertakings that create kinship. Moreover, it is the assertion in the chapter that kinship is closely related to means of livelihood and reproduction. It is therefore utilized in many societies as a form of regulation where it provides guidance on matters social order and relation. Kinship according to the chapter is very crucial to any concerned group of people since it forms the basis of its continuity since it plays a significant role in arranging marriages, and the regulation of production and consumption thus helping the group at hand in attaining sustainability.
In my case, it is indeed true that kinship plays a crucial role in guaranteeing the perpetuity of any group. I have always been taught that there is nothing as important as having your kinship support. My father is a firm believer in keeping the “blood” relatives close since they will never let you down. Moreover, when it comes to matters production and consumption, the ideas passed to a person by his or her kinship heavily influences one’s behavior when it comes to his or her future conduct. A good example is my case, where my father has always insisted on the need to save more than what one consumes. As a result, what little I get, I tend to ensure that the larger percentage goes to my savings. Another parameter discussed in the chapter is on kinship naming system where, in different societies, there are specific terms given to people occupying different spaces in the kinship system. In the case of Eskimos special terms are used on members of the nuclear family and are not used on any other members as an illustration of the importance of kin in the nuclear family. Such term is mother, father, brother and sister a phenomenon this is very similar in my culture. This information was interesting since am now aware of the rationale using these terms on the nuclear family kin. Moreover, the uniqueness of these terms clearly demonstrates the importance and closeness of these members to us.
Another phenomenon discussed in the chapter is on tracing the kinship where different culture uses different direction when it comes to tracing on kinship an undertaking called descent. It was the finding that all culture uses two approaches when it comes to tracing one kin. The bilineal descent where a child is recognized to belong to the decent of both the father and the mother. On the contrary, there are cultures where a child takes the decent of only one of the parents, and this is known as unilineal descent. Moreover, the unilineal descent forms the majority of the approach used in the world where the child can belong to patrilineal descent where the kinship is traced from the father's side or the matrilineal descent where the kinship is traced through the female side. This is very true finding, in my culture, the approach utilized is that of unilineal leaning towards the patrilineal where the kinship is traced via my father’s side.
In the chapter, it is the assertion that in many societies, kinship is centered upon the act of sharing. Members of kinship are expected to be of help to the other members as a way of improving the bond and helping in sustaining the group. In Malaysia, the act of sharing plays a crucial role in creating and sustaining relationships between kin members and particular for the natives in small islands, sharing rice resembles a very significant act that helps in sustaining kinship ties. This is a very common phenomenon is may societies where kinship members come together and share a meal as a way of staying in touch with kin and strengthening the bond. In my family every year, there is a party held in the different home of my father’s relatives where people come together and share a meal. This practice was started by my late great-grandfather whose intention was to ensure that all his kinship members will always be close to one another. When we get together, people share a lot and any member with a problem is helped, and this is a practice that has seen my family remain a united front.
Another piece of information that I found interesting is the fact that child adoption or fostering was also a way kinship sharing. Moreover, it was interesting that in some communities, children are given by their parents to other members as a result of being “too many” or being “too many of a particular gender”. A good example is the Maasai Pastoralists community in the East Africa. This was a very unfamiliar scenario to me since, in my experience, adoption and fostering of children were basically for the parent who were not in a position to bear their children. Moreover, in my culture children are precious and are always loved despite their number or gender. It was, therefore, surprising that a parent can just give his or her kin a child just because he or she has too many daughters or sons.
In the chapter, marriage is presented as an important variable that enhances the close relationship among different people and plays a role in guaranteeing the perpetuity of a kingship through reproduction. Moreover, it is the assertion in the chapter that in all societies, marriage plays two roles; reproduction and regulating sexual behavior in the society a phenomenon that aids in maintaining law and order within the concerned kinship. Of interest in the topic of marriage is the present of a cross cousin and parallel cousin marriages a phenomenon where a daughter or a son can marry the daughter or son of his mother’s or father daughter or son. This to me was a very astonishing findings in the chapter since to my culture cousins are very close kin that one should not be involved in any sexual acts with them and is considered as incest taboo. Another information that was also astonishing was the presence of polyandry form of marriage where a woman has more than one man particularly in Tibet, India.
Another important parameter on kinship is the household unit. In the context of North America, the household unit is also referred to a family where the people of the same kinship live together. Moreover, households exist in two forms nuclear households where married couple and their children live. There is also the extended households where more than one married couple lives together. In my experience, the nuclear household is the common norm where the father and the mother live with their children. Moreover, it is a common practice that other kin visit for a few days making the nuclear household an extended household temporarily.
The author concludes by demonstrating the changes being experienced in matters kinship. One of the change discussed in on the matrilineal descent where after colonization, the approach of tracing kinship through the female approach in Asia and Africa has significantly declined due to the colonial masters’ act of registering properties under males’ names. Another change discussed is in the marriage where there is a huge change on matters courtship where with the change in the mode of communication, courtship has significantly changed. This is very true since previously, courtship was entirely based on face to face contact but with the use of social media, it is not unusual to have couples who met and courted via the different social media platforms. The change in households is another phenomenon discusses where the assertion is that with increased industrialization, the existence of extended household is slowly declining and is expected to continue declining. This is also the result of increased demand for privacy in households where young couples are preferring having their space far from their kin.
In summary to me, this chapter on kinship and domestic life has brought to light on how kinship plays a regulatory role to many people. Moreover thought the insights provided, it is clear that despite the present of difference on particular parameters of kinship, kinship remains the basis through which people understand their way of lives. Besides, the information brought forward on different practices found in various cultures forming different kinship forms a good platform where it is now possible to understand and appreciate the various practices upheld by different people. At the end of it all, the chapter has helped me appreciate the element of diversity on matters marriage and households where different kinships observe different practices that to them forms the firm foundation through which the interest and the perpetuity of these kinships are guaranteed.