Family and Kinship Ties
Family entails close-knit ties people have to one another. Many different types of family bonds exist, based in part on specific cultural definitions. Generally, families are defined by blood bonds, marriage bonds, and adoption bonds. A blood bond is a relationship based on genetic ties tracing familial descent. A blood relative is a family member with a biological relationship to others in a family group. Adoption also creates a strong family bond; ties based on adoption parallel blood bonds. Marriage bonds create new ties between individuals and between families.
A kinship bond is a link based on close ties. These can exist between blood relatives, extended family, and others. Although concepts of family and kinship vary from culture to culture, family as a social institution is based on different understandings of kinship bonds that are culturally defined. In many communities and cultures, community members as well relatives by blood, adoption, and marriage are included in definitions of family.
Family and kinship bonds can have a significant impact on individuals, communities, and societies. Cultural norms and expectations shape these bonds. For instance, in Mexican and Mexican American culture a kinship system called compadrazgo, or co-parenthood, is influential in many families. Comadres (comothers) and compadres (cofathers) are adults who play an important role in a child's life and help with raising the child. They play the role that godparents play in many cultures, although scholars note the particularly deep kinship commitments that characterize the concept of compadrazgo. Multiple studies from the 21st century show that Mexican American women consider comadres key sources of support. The influence of in-law bonds, ties created by marriage, are another example of the way kinship bonds can impact people. A 2012 study that tracked 373 U.S. couples for over two decades found that when husbands had close relationships with in-laws, couples were less likely to divorce. This particular type of kinship bond appears to contribute to American marriages, influencing to some extent whether or not they succeed.
Kin, Kinship, and Kinship Groups
|Types of Kinship Groups|
|Primary||Mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, daughter, son|
|Secondary||Grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, first cousins|
|Tertiary||Great-grandparents, great-grandchildren, great-aunts, great-uncles, great-nieces, great-nephews, distant cousins|