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Kinship and Social Organization

Kinship and Social Organization

Launch Tool

In this tool, students are introduced to kinship, defined as the most basic principle of organizing individuals into social groups, roles, and categories. Since this tutorial was written for college students, much of the text is beyond the average high-school student. Nevertheless, high-school teachers can use much of the material effectively, including the fundamentals of kinship; the descriptions and flow charts of patrilineal, matrilineal, and dual descent; and the chapter on household and domestic organization. Examples of various cultures are also informative and include photographs, but much of the text will be difficult for high-school students to follow.


For Educators

Students can read the section on “Unilineal Kinship and Descent” and then work their way through the patrilineal, matrilineal, and dual descent sections, answering a few test questions based on the diagrams. Teachers could then direct students to create their own kinship diagrams (family trees). Students may particularly like to view the “Cousin Degree and Removal” chart found under “Collateral Degree” in the “Systems of Descent” chapter and apply the information to their own families. The information provided in this tutorial would be a good supplement for discussions on inheritance, kinship, and cultural definitions of family.

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Tool Details

Grades Themes Type Project 2061 Benchmarks National Science Standards
AAAS