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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co.
In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated.
This may be conceived of on a more or less literal basis.
Kinship can also refer to a principle by which individuals or groups of individuals are organized into social groups, roles, categories and genealogy by means of kinship terminologies.
In a more general sense, kinship may refer to a similarity or affinity between entities on the basis of some or all of their characteristics that are under focus.
This may be due to a shared ontological origin, a shared historical or cultural connection, or some other perceived shared features that connect the two entities.
However, producing children is not the only function of the family; in societies with a sexual division of labor, marriage, and the resulting relationship between two people, it is necessary for the formation of an economically productive household.
Different societies classify kinship relations differently and therefore use different systems of kinship terminology – for example some languages distinguish between affinal and consanguine uncles, whereas others have only one word to refer to both a father and his brothers.
The major patterns of kinship systems that are known which Lewis Henry Morgan identified through kinship terminology in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family are: The six types (Crow, Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Omaha, Sudanese) that are not fully classificatory (Dravidian, Australian) are those identified by Murdock (1949) prior to Lounsbury's (1964) rediscovery of the linguistic principles of classificatory kin terms.
Further, even within these two broad usages of the term, there are different theoretical approaches.
Broadly, kinship patterns may be considered to include people related by both descent – i.e.
In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children.
As the basic unit for raising children, Anthropologists most generally classify family organization as matrifocal (a mother and her children); conjugal (a husband, his wife, and children; also called nuclear family); avuncular (a brother, his sister, and her children); or extended family in which parents and children co-reside with other members of one parent's family.
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In biology, "kinship" typically refers to the degree of genetic relatedness or coefficient of relationship between individual members of a species (e.g. It may also be used in this specific sense when applied to human relationships, in which case its meaning is closer to consanguinity or genealogy.