4. In the 19th century it was believed (by Morgan, Engels and others) that kinship systems had developed through similar stages in different parts of the world, from matrilineal to patrilineal and cognatic systems, and from “primitive promiscuity” with no proper marriage arrangements, to polygamy and then monogamy. Naturally the 19th century thinkers assumed that European and American kinship patterns were the most advanced! This is for the most part conjecture: it is supported by only some of the evidence from certain parts of the world. It is probably true that in early hominid society, as among chimpanzees, mother-children links were strong and mating may not have given rise to strong male-female relationships. It is also true that among some groups (such as the Nyar) matrilineal kinship has given way to other forms. But otherwise there seem to be few links between type of kinship organisation and level of social development. The Nyar case, and many others, show that kinship institutions can change quite rapidly when the
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