Kinship And The Social Order

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One of the world's most eminent social anthropologists draws upon his many years of study and research in the field of kinship and social organization to review the development of anthropological theory and method from Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881) to anthropologists of the 1960s. It is the central argument of this book that the structuralist theory and method developed by British and American anthropologists in the study of kinship and social organization is the direct descendant of Morgan's researches. The volume starts with a re-examination of Morgan's work. Professor Fortes demonstrates how a tradition of misinterpretation has disguised the true import of Morgan's discoveries. He follows with a detailed analysis of the work of Rivers and Radcliffe-Brown and the generation of anthropologists inspired by them. The author states his own point of view as it has developed in the framework of modern structuralist theory, with ethnographic examples examined in depth. He shows that the social relations and institutions conventionally grouped under the rubric of kinship and social organization belong simultaneously to two complementary domains of social structure, the familial and the political. Meyer Fortes' contribution to the field of anthropology can best be understood in the context of balance of forces between these domains of the personal and public. In the latter part of the book, he gives detailed attention to the principal conceptual issues that have confronted research and theory in the study of kinship and social organizations since Morgan's time. He shows that kinship institutions are autonomous, not mere by-products of economic requirements, and demonstrates the moral base of kinship in the rule of amity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Kinship and the Social Order is an amplified version of the first Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures, which Professor Fortes gave at the University of Rochester in 1963. In it, Fortes summarizes some of the main achievements in the study of kinship in relation to social structure since the basic discoveries of Morgan: the systematic character of kinship relations, terminology and institutions, and the relevance of kinship for the study of political structure, especially in societies with unilineal descent groups (Morgan’s gens).” —S. C. Humphreys, Comparative Studies in Society and History “Professor Fortes’ new book is perhaps the most important modern statement of kinship theory…. The present book is an apologia both for a tradition of study and for a personal career: and it is an achievement of considerable magnitude…. One would like to recommend this book to anyone concerned with African studies, but its uncompromising professionalism will make it tough going for the non-anthropologist. Nevertheless, it will reward application; and the case-studies in the book, a monograph within a monograph on the Ashanti, and a brilliant section on the Lozi, must be read by anybody concerned with these peoples.” —Adam Kuper, African Affairs “Professor Fortes is seeking to state and sum up at length the results of his own researches, his wide reading, and prolonged serious thinking about the essential nature of kinship and kinship systems and their involvement with the enveloping social system…. [T]his book is a grand survey and an exposition of the theoretical framework of the discipline of social anthropology from the vantage point of one of its most characteristic features—structural kinship studies.” —P. H. Gulliver, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London “The interest of this book lies in just this: its detailed exposition of Fortes’s conception of anthropology.” —Sally F. Moore, Man “This is a major theoretical treatise on social structure (largely in tribal societies) by one of the most eminent British social anthropologists. It is the first such work in many years and in many respects a very good book that demands the attention of all social anthropologists…. [H]e makes the necessary conceptual and analytical distinctions, makes them well, and raises the level of comparative social structural analysis to a new high.” —Harold W. Scheffler, American Anthropologist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202308029
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/15/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 364
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Meyer Fortes, born in South Africa, became one of the world's leading social anthropologists and his work set the standard for all subsequent studies of African social organization. He trained with Seligman, Malinowski, and Firth; was a reader in social anthropology at Oxford University where he worked with Radcliffe-Brown and Evans-Pritchard; and from 1950-1973 he was William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He died in 1983.

Lionel Tiger is Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Decline of Males,Optimism,The Pursuit of Pleasure,China’s Food,The Manufacture of Evil, Men in Groups, and The Imperial Animal. In addition, he is a regular contributor to both Psychology Today and The New York Times. He is the series editor of Evolutionary Foundations of Human Behaviorfor Transaction Publishers.

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Table of Contents

Aldine Transaction Introduction vii
Foreword xi
Preface xiii
Part I Retrospect
Chapter I Morgan: The Founding Father 3
Chapter II The Line of Succession: From Morgan to Radcliffe-Brown 18
Chapter III Morgan and the Analytical Approach 31
Chapter IV Radcliffe-Brown and the Development of Structural Analysis 42
Chapter V Toward the Jural Dimension 60
Part II Paradigmatic Ethnographical Specimens
Chapter VI A Methodological Excursus 87
Chapter VII The Kinship Polity 101
Chapter VIII Cognatic Systems and the Politico-Jural Domain 122
Chapter IX The Ashanti: State and Citizenship 138
Chapter X The Lineage in Ashanti 154
Chapter XI Ashanti Patrilateral Kinship and its Values 191
Part III Some Issues in Structural Theory
Chapter XII Kinship and the Axiom of Amity 219
Chapter XIII Filiation Reconsidered 250
Chapter XIV Descent and the Corporate Group 276
Bibliography 311
Index 335
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