DSST Anthropology as a Discipline

Because cross culturally incest is more an emotional

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Because, cross-culturally, incest is more an emotional than a legal issue, the term taboo is generally preferred over prohibition. The incest taboo is acknowledged in anthropology as universal, although it is imposed differently in different societies and knowledge of its breach provokes widely different reactions from society to society. Exogamy i s the rule or custom which requires people to marry outside a particular group or locality. Exogamy is also called outbreeding and is the opposite of inbreeding. Almost all cultures strongly discourage inbreeding because reproducing with individuals who are closely related increases the chances that the resulting offspring will suffer from genetic defects. A rule which dictates that marriage must be to a person within one’s own group is called endogamy . An endogamous group could involve members of a specific religion, caste, nationality, class, etc. Divorce is the act by which a valid marriage is dissolved, usually freeing the parties to remarry. In regions in which ancient religious authority still predominates, it may be difficult and rare, especially when, as among Roman Catholics and Hindus, the religious tradition views marriage as indissoluble. Custom, however, may make divorce a simple matter in some societies. Among some Pueblo Indian tribes a woman could divorce her husband by leaving his moccasins on the doorstep. Kindred consisted of a set of relatives from each side of the family, extending at least to the second cousins of any given individual. A person's kindred was once important, as this was the unit within which inheritance could be claimed, but the significance of the kindred varied from city-state to city-state and through history. For example, during the 5th and 4th centuries BC such ties of kinship were less important in urban Athens than elsewhere, because of increasing urbanization and the large number of noncitizens in the population . Lineage is a descent group reckoned through only one parent, either paternal (patrilineage) or maternal(matrilineage). All members of such a group trace their common ancestry to a single person. A lineage is exclusive in its membership and is normally corporate, its members exercising rights in common and being collectively subject to obligations . Membership of a clan is socially defined in terms of actual or purported descent from a common ancestor . This descent is unilineal-—i.e., derived only through the male (patriclan) or the female (matriclan). Normally, but not always, the clans are exogamous, marriage within the clan being forbidden and regarded as incest. The clan- is a kinship group of fundamental importance in the structure of many societies. Affiliation with a group of kin through descent links of one sex only is called unilineal descent.
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Christopher Reinemann
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