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An approach to the quantitative study of kinship in a western-type society Inglis, Gordon Bahan

Abstract

This thesis is concerned with development of some methods and concepts by which kinship behaviour in Western urban societies may be studied quantitatively, and with the data derived from an experimental application of them. Questionnaires filled out by 185 students in the introductory course in Anthropology were analyzed. In the light of this analysis, the inadequacies of some definitions and uses of the term "kindred" are demonstrated, and the concepts of "potential kindred" and "effective kindred" are suggested. In an approach to the investigation of the importance of kin relationships, kin terminology and the naming of children are considered, and a "kin-use index" is derived for the quantitative expression of dependence upon kin for support. Findings stress the importance of the nuclear family, and suggest a matrilateral bias in kinship knowledge and behaviour. The influence of propinquity and separation upon kin relationships is explored by means of an application of the concept of pheric distance and the development of a numerical index of interaction between kinsmen. Again the findings show a nuclear family pattern with a matrilateral bias. Also considered in this connection are findings that suggest an uxorilocal pattern of residence. In conclusion, the implications of the findings are discussed in comparison with the model of American kinship presented by Talcott Parsons, and some suggestions about the application of modified versions of the methods and concepts used in this study are made.

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