What Is the Relationship Between “Biology” and Kinship Systems?

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Q. What is the relationship between “biology” and kinship systems?

A. Kinship can be defined as society acknowledging biological connections between people. This view however has been challenged because kinship systems are regarded now as too complex. C. Levi-Strauss (1963) argued; “Kinship…only exists in human consciousness.” The correct way of studying the relationship between biology and kinship systems can only be made by looking at particular societies and cannot be made universally.

Biology may have very little to do with kinship when you look at cultures which ‘play with facts.’ However, once you take ethno biology into consideration, everything about kinship can be linked to biology. W. River’s (1965) work on kinship and
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By stressing on affinial ties, alliance theory neglects descent. This is highlighted by D. Schneider. In his work on the Yap Schneider argues that membership is not so much based on biological relationships but rather on affinity. “Membership is established not through birth but through residence, activities and relationships.”(1984) Affiliation is also established by name giving. A newborn child becomes formally affiliated through the process of being given a name by one of the senior members. Consequently it "cannot itself be a descent group." (1984).
A. Kuper (1999) points out that if Stauss’ theory was correct then why are all societies not structuring their kinship around alliances such as African tribal societies.

One possible reason could be because of ‘cultural relativism.’ According to R. Redfield (1953) cultural relativism means; “the values of that culture are to be understood only by the way the people of that culture see things.” Schneider uses cultural relativism to analysis the meaning of kinship and the taken for granted assumptions like the construction of relatives.
Although cultural relativism allows each society to recognise different relationships with kinship systems it fails to provide any scientific use of data for studying kinship systems. For example; how do you construct a universal analysis of kinship once you have gathered information from each culture if
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