The Bilateral Kindred
All societies construct their kinship systems and define social groups,
roles and relationships on the basis of a bilateral network formed through
combinations of marriage and parentage ties. In some societies, the extended
bilateral network, termed a kindred, forms a recognized social group, as
in the case of many early medieval cultures. In contemporary European cultures,
bilateral kinship is dominant, but no recognizable groups are formed. In
many non-Western societies emphasis is placed on exclusive descent through
male or female relatives as was also the case in ancient Israel and Rome.
Nevertheless, these unilineal systems, also recognize kinship
that are not incorporated into direct male and female lines.
below represents a bilaterally extended kindred which forms a
template for tracing a variety of kinship relationships from an egocentric,
or individually centered perspective.
An Egocentric Bilateral
The diagram above charts out a short range of Ego's consanguineal
kin (literally "blood" relatives), to whom he is related by birth.
He will also have important relationships with affines or affinal
relatives (not shown on this diagram) linked by his own marriage or that of
one of his consanguines.
© 1995 Brian Schwimmer
University of Manitoba
All rights reserved