IGNOU BSOC 109 Solved Assignment 2022-23

IGNOU BSOC 109 Solved Assignment 2022-23 PDF : BSOC 109 Solved Assignment 2022 , BSOC 109 Solved Assignment 2022-23, BSOC 109 Assignment 2022-23, BSOC 109 Assignment, IGNOU Assignments 2022-23- Gandhi National Open University had recently uploaded the assignments of the present session for MEG Programme for the year 2022-23. Students are recommended to download their Assignments from this webpage itself.

Assignment A

1. Critically examine the descent approach to the study of kinship 

Ans. Thus, British social anthropologists explored the ways in which kinship provided a basis for forming the kinds of groups—discrete, bounded, and linked to a particular territory—that were seen as necessary for a stable political order. Their explanations of these mechanisms became known as the descent theory of kinship.

Kinship is always “bilateral”; that is, it consists of relatives on both the mother’s and the father’s sides. Of course the relatives on both sides of any individual overlap with those of others, creating a web of inter-connected-ness rather than a discrete group. However, the recognition of one line of descent and the exclusion of the other provides the basis of a “unilineal” kinship system. In such systems descent defines bounded groups. The principle operates similarly whether the rule of descent is matrilineal (traced through the mother in the female line) or patrilineal (traced through the father in the male line).

Unilineal kinship systems were seen by British anthropologists of this period as providing a basis for the stable functioning of societies in the absence of state institutions. Generally, unilineal descent groups were exogamous. They also acted as corporations: their members held land in common, acted as a single unit with regard to substantive property, and behaved as one “person” in relation to other similarly constituted groups in legal and political matters such as warfare, feuds, and litigation. That is, the members of a lineage did not act as individuals in the politico-jural domain, instead conceiving themselves to a considerable extent as undifferentiated and continuous with each other. This corporateness was the basis of the stability and structure of a society formed out of unilineal descent groups.

The distinction between matrilineal and patrilineal systems did not have any obvious implications in terms of women’s political status, although it is sometimes assumed that a matrilineal kinship system must imply women’s greater political power. Anthropologists make a clear distinction between matriliny and matriarchy, however: the former denotes a method of reckoning kinship, while the latter denotes a system in which women have overall political control to the exclusion of men. Similarly, patriarchy denotes political control by men to the exclusion of women.

Although women may be more highly valued in matrilineal than patrilineal cultures, the anthropological data clearly indicate that hierarchical political systems (whether matrilineal or patrilineal) tend to be dominated by men and that no period of absolute matriarchy has ever existed. Despite plentiful evidence to the contrary, a notional era of “pure” matriarchy has been invoked as a theme in some very diverse contexts, including not only 19th-century cultural evolutionism but also the more recent discourses of environmentalism (especially eco feminism), Neo-Paganism, and the so-called Goddess movement.

2. Examine the feminist contributions to the study of kinship 

Ans. From the 1960s onward the feminist movement and the scholarship it inspired have had a very obvious impact on kinship studies. This resulted first in a number of important works that documented the lives of women, which had previously been omitted from ethnographic accounts. Women’s involvement in households and domestic arrangements, trade, exchange, labour, religion, and economic life was rendered in detail, making the gaps in previous cross-cultural studies all too visible.

By the end of the 1970s, attention had begun to shift from women to the symbolization of gender itself. This shift can be connected to a broader questioning of gender roles outside (and within) the academy and was marked by the analytical separation of the terms gender and sex, among other things. Studies of women had made it eminently clear that there were very few characteristics that could be attributed both exclusively and universally to one sex or the other; whether one was expected to be strong or weak, aggressive or passive, serious or humorous, disciplinarian or nurturing, and so on depended on cultural expectations, not on biology. To clarify this difference, scholars came to use sex to refer to biological characteristics, the most obvious of which are the genitalia (e.g., male, female, or hermaphroditic). In contrast, gender referred to a social category comprising the roles and expectations a culture had for men, women, and (in some cases) additional genders, such as the berdache (men who live as women and women who live as men, found in some traditional American Indian cultures) or the hijra (men who live as women, found in some parts of India). Studies of gender as a symbolic system focused on the roles that men and women played, on ideas about what constituted a proper man or woman in a particular culture, and on how differences between men and women were perceived in that culture. They sought to avoid prior assumptions about what these differences were.

Anthropology seemed uniquely well-placed to examine cross-cultural variation in gender a scriptions. Feminists in the West were questioning the assumptions on which the patriarchal nuclear family was based and looked to anthropology for examples of alternative arrangements from contemporary non-Western societies. Households, domestic arrangements, marriage, procreation, childbirth, and other aspects of what had previously been defined as kinship were of course central to the study of gender. As a result, one issue that soon emerged was the extent to which kinship and gender could be considered as separate analytic domains.

Assignment B

3. How is marriage defined in kinship studies and what are its types? 

Ans. Kinship is a “system of social organization based on real or putative family ties,” But in sociology, kinship involves more than family ties, according to the Sociology Group:

“Kinship is one of the most important organizing components of society. … This social institution ties individuals and groups together and establishes a relationship among them.”

Kinship can involve a relationship between two people unrelated by lineage or marriage, according to David Murray Schneider, who was a professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago who was well known in academic circles for his studies of kinship.

In an article titled “What Is Kinship All About?” published posthumously in 2004 in “Kinship and Family: An Anthropological Reader,” Schneider said that kinship refers to:

“the degree of sharing likelihood among individuals from different communities. For instance, if two people have many similarities between them then both of them do have a bond of kinship.”

At its most basic, kinship refers to “the bond (of) marriage and reproduction,” says the Sociology Group, but kinship can also involve any number of groups or individuals based on their social relationships.


Sociologists and anthropologists debate as what to types of kinship exist. Most social scientists agree that kinship is based on two broad areas: birth and marriage; others say a third category of kinship involves social ties. These three types of kinship are:

Consanguineal: This kinship is based on blood—or birth: the relationship between parents and children as well as siblings, says the Sociology Group. This is the most basic and universal type of kinship. Also known as a primary kinship, it involves people who are directly related.

Affinal: This kinship is based on marriage. The relationship between husband and wife is also considered a basic form of kinship.

Social: Schneider argued that not all kinship derives from blood (consanguineal) or marriage (affinal). There are also social kinships, where individuals not connected by birth or marriage may still have a bond of kinship, he said. By this definition, two people who live in different communities may share a bond of kinship through a religious affiliation or a social group, such as the Kiwanis or Rotary service club, or within a rural or tribal society marked by close ties among its members. A major difference between consanguineal or affinal and social kinship is that the latter involves “the ability to terminate absolutely the relationship” without any legal recourse, Schneider stated in his 1984 book, “A Critique of the Study of Kinship.”

Kinship is important to a person and a community’s well-being. Because different societies define kinship differently, they also set the rules governing kinship, which are sometimes legally defined and sometimes implied. At its most basic levels, according to the Sociology Group, kinship refers to:

Descent: the socially existing recognized biological relationships between people in the society. Every society looks at the fact that all offspring and children descend from their parents and that biological relationships exist between parents and children. Descent is used to trace an individual’s ancestry.

Lineage: the line from which descent is traced. This also called ancestry.

Based on descent and lineage, kinship determines family-line relationships—and even sets rules on who can marry and with whom, says Puja Mondal in “Kinship: Brief Essay on Kinship.” Mondal adds that kinship sets guidelines for interactions between people and defines the proper, acceptable relationship between father and daughter, brother and sister, or husband and wife, for example.

But since kinship also covers social connections, it has a wider role in society, says the Sociology Group, noting that kinship:

  • Maintains unity, harmony, and cooperation among relationships
  • Sets guidelines for communication and interactions among people

Defines the rights and obligations of the family and marriage as well as the system of political power in rural areas or tribal societies, including among members who are not related by blood or marriage

  • Helps people better understand their relationships with each other
  • Helps people better relate to each other in society

Kinship, then, involves the social fabric that ties families—and even societies—together. According to the anthropologist George Peter Murdock:

“Kinship is a structured system of relationships in which kins are bound to one another by complex inter­locking ties.”

The breadth of those “interlocking ties” depends on how you define kin and kinship.

If kinship involves only blood and marriage ties, then kinship defines how family relationships form and how family members interact with one another. But if, as Schneider argued, kinship involves any number of social ties, then kinship—and its rules and norms—regulates how people from specific groups, or even entire communities, relate to each other in every aspect of their lives.

4. What are the distinctive features of North Indian kinship? 

Ans. Kinship organisation in North India is based on patrilineal descent groups. This means that the descent is traced in the male line, i., from father to son; and transmission of status and property also takes place in the male line. In other words, they have a patrilineal mode of inheritance. In this zone, caste endogamy, clan exogamy and incest taboos regarding sexual relations between primary kins are strictly observed. No person is allowed to marry a daughter of his patriline. In North India lineage ties upto five or six generations are generally remembered and marriage alliances are not allowed within this range. Widely used Sanskrit term ‘Gotra’ is an exogamous unit. There are four-gotra rules, that is, a man must not marry a woman from I his father’s gotra, (ii) his mother’s gotra, (iii) his father’s mother’s gotra, and (iv) his mother’s mother’s gotra. These rules are generally practised particularly among the Brahmins and the other upper castes in north India. However, some intermediate castes and most of the lower castes avoid gotras of father and mother only.

The kinship terminology is the expression of kinship relations in linguistic terms. In the case of north India, descriptive system of terminology is used to describe the relationship from the point of view of the speaker. Unlike the English terms, uncle, aunty, cousin, which do not reveal age, patrilineal or matrilineal ties, the north Indian kinship terms are very clear. For example, chachera bhai means father’s younger brother’s (chacha’s) son. Similarly, memra bhai means mother’s brother’s (mama’s) son.

5. Write a note on New Reproductive Technologies 

Ans. New reproductive technologies (NRTs) are a broad constellation of tech- nologies aimed at facilitating, preventing, or otherwise intervening in the process of reproduction. This includes, for example, contraception, abortion, antenatal testing, birth technologies, and conceptive technologies.

NRTs as a range of technologies have come a long way, from ultrasound to assisted conception. Technological progression is both horizontal and linear. Thus, while new and different technologies emerge, there is a simultaneous endeavour to advance the already existing technologies, thereby resulting in different variations of a particular technology. This constantly evolving nature of scientific innovation has become the hallmark of contemporary biomedicine. The expansion of the realm of biotechnology in general, and of NRTs in particular, has also brought in new actors. Indeed, there is an entire industry based on and around these technologies, especially assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) today. It is in this context that this chapter explores the implications of NRTs in a globalised world. Contraception and women’s health The contemporary version of reproductive technologies is not without a past. Hence, it is important not to see these technologies as isolated scientific breakthroughs, but rather to historicise their modern avatar. With the unprecedented expansion of these technologies, accelerated also by developments in the field of biotechnology, an interrogation of issues that lie at the interface of technology, health, and society – and their implications for women – has become all the more urgent.

International agencies, family planning organisations, and governments have justified the use of invasive medical interventions in developing countries – hormonal contraceptives, anti-fertility vaccines, chemical sterilisation, and tubectomies performed in unsafe conditions – with arguments about ‘out of control’ fertility rates and the imminent ‘population explosion’. Scientists have collaborated in this enterprise, testing contraceptives on poor women without their consent, despite evidence of the serious health consequences of this practice. When research towards the approval of these contraceptives has been opposed, regulatory authorities have permitted their introduction through the back door. There has been a long and dubious historical association of ‘family planning’ with ‘population control’. Feminists and health activists in different parts of the world have raised their voices against the harmful effects of contraceptive technologies in the form of implants, vaccines, and injectables. They have questioned the safety of hormonal contraceptive technologies, the ways in which clinical trials are conducted, the ways in which informed consent is collected, and the inadequate efforts of family planning programmes in securing women’s health in general. Furthermore, health activists have protested the inclusion of women in the health care system as essentialised reproductive beings, to the exclusion of their other health needs.

Assignment C

6. Patrilineage 

Ans. Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship system in which an individual’s family membership derives from and is recorded through their father’s lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, rights, names, or titles by persons related through male kin. This is sometimes distinguished from cognate kinship, through the mother’s lineage, also called the spindle side or the distaff side.

A patriline (“father line”) is a person’s father, and additional ancestors, as traced only through males.

Traditionally and historically people would identify the person’s ethnicity with the father’s heritage and ignore the maternal ancestry in the ethnic factor.

In the Bible, family and tribal membership appears to be transmitted through the father. For example, a person is considered to be a priest or Levite, if his father is a priest or Levite, and the members of all the Twelve Tribes are called Israelites because their father is Israel (Jacob). Because of this they are called the “chosen people” by virtue of being “sons of Israel”; that is, the biological male descendants of Israel, who is referred to as their “father” in the sense that he is their lineal male ancestor.

Patrilineal or agnatic succession gives priority to or restricts inheritance of a throne or fief to heirs, male or female, descended from the original title holder through males only. Traditionally, agnatic succession is applied in determining the names and membership of European dynasties. The prevalent forms of dynastic succession in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa were male-preference primogeniture, agnatic primogeniture, or agnatic seniority until after World War II. There are, however, matrilineal examples like the Lobedu Rain Queen.

By the 21st century, most ongoing European monarchies had replaced their traditional agnatic succession with absolute primogeniture, meaning that the first child born to a monarch inherits the throne, regardless of the child’s sex.

7. Relatedness 

Ans. Relatedness refers to the desire to feel loved, connected to others, and meaningfully involved with the broader social world. As early as the 1950s, vocational psychologists had identified relatedness as the primary dimension distinguishing among occupations. Early theories postulated that an orientation toward people as opposed to an orientation away from people (or an orientation toward things) was a critical dimension distinguishing among occupations. The strength of a person’s preference for working with people is one of the primary factors influencing occupational choices. An extensive body of research supports this view. Some leisure psychologists have also suggested that this is the primary dimension that distinguishes among leisure activities. Research has shown that the desires to affiliate with and nurture others are important dimensions distinguishing among leisure activities.

relatedness of a fixated target and parafoveally visible post-target word determined target viewing durations. First-fixation duration and gaze duration on the target decreased when target and post-target words contained the same letter sequence and when they were associated. These results extend the findings of Murray (1998) by showing that semantic properties of parafoveally visible words affect target viewing duration even when the task requires typical sentence reading. Hence, access to the meaning of a parafoveally visible word can precede the initiation of an interword saccade into this word. This finding clearly contravenes the sequential attention assumption, according to which programming of interword saccades occurs when attention is focused on the fixated word, i.e., before any useful linguistic can be obtained from the next word in the text.

8. Descriptive Kinship terms 

Ans. Descriptive terminology, in contrast to classificatory terminology, maintains a separation between lineal and collateral kin; for example, mother and mother’s sister, although of the same generation and sex, are distinguished. Descriptive systems are typically found wherever the nuclear family operates as a relatively autonomous unit economically and socially; as a result, they are relatively rare in ethnographic literature.

The standard European-American system of kinship uses descriptive terminology, but it also demonstrates that the distinction between descriptive and classificatory kinship systems is not absolute. In contemporary U.S. social organization, for example, kinship terminology distinguishes lineal members of ego’s generation (siblings) from collateral members of ego’s generation (cousins) but, with the exception of father, groups the men of the previous generation together, so that mother’s brother, mother’s sister’s husband, father’s brother, and father’s sister’s husband are all referred to by the term uncle.

important social information, but the problem of the cultural meanings and correct translations of kinship terminology has proved to be intractable. To a great extent, this is because kinship terms represent the competing realms of social and genetic relatedness; thus, it cannot be assumed that two or more persons for whom ego uses a single term are socially indistinguishable. For example, although it is quite common for all men of ego’s parental generation to be called by a single term (e.g., to use the same kin term for father and uncles), nobody in such a community would confuse ego’s biological father with the other men in that generational cohort. One method used by anthropologists to avoid bias is the development of a precise descriptive language. For example, when a father and his brother are referred to by the same term within a kinship system, the anthropologist may express the position of father’s brother as “a male agnatic relative of the ascending generation.”

9. Joint family

Ans. The joint family is an extension of the nuclear family (parents and dependent children), and it typically grows when children of one sex do not leave their parents’ home at marriage but bring their spouses to live with them. Thus, a patrilineal joint family might consist of an older man and his wife, his sons and unmarried daughters, his sons’ wives and children, and so forth. For a man in the middle generation, belonging to a joint family means joining his conjugal family to his family of orientation (i.e., into which he was born).

The joint family is distinguished from the extended family (q.v.) only in that members of the latter live in separate compounds. Members of a joint family share all the tasks of food gathering, trade, food preparation, and child rearing; and at times the social organization is so cohesive that the discrete nuclear families are barely visible in the daily chores, with children addressing all the adult women as “mother.

extended family, an expansion of the nuclear family (parents and dependent children), usually built around a unilineal descent group (i.e., a group in which descent through either the female or the male line is emphasized). The extended family system often, but not exclusively, occurs in regions in which economic conditions make it difficult for the nuclear family to achieve self-sufficiency. Cooperation being necessary, aid is recruited, usually either from the patrilineal kin or the matrilineal kin.

10. Levi-Strauss’ understanding of alliance

Ans. The alliance theory, also known as the general theory of exchanges, is a structuralist method of studying kinship relations. It finds its origins in Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Elementary Structures of Kinship (1949) and is in opposition to the functionalist theory of Radcliffe-Brown. Alliance theory has oriented most anthropological French works until the 1980s; its influences were felt in various fields, including psychoanalysis, philosophy and political philosophy.

The hypothesis of a “marriage-alliance” emerged in this frame, pointing out towards the necessary interdependence of various families and lineages. Marriages themselves are thus seen as a form of communication that anthropologists such as Lévi-Strauss, Louis Dumont or Rodney Needham have described. Alliance theory hence tries to understand the basic questions about inter-individual relations, or what constitutes society.

Alliance theory is based on the incest taboo: according to it, only this universal prohibition of incest pushes human groups towards exogamy. Thus, inside a given society, certain categories of kin are forbidden to inter-marry. The incest taboo is thus a negative prescription; without it, nothing would push men to go searching for women outside their inner kinship circle, or vice versa. This theory echoes with Freud’s Totem and Taboo (1913). But the incest taboo of alliance theory, in which one’s daughter or sister is offered to someone outside a family circle, starts a circle of exchange of women: in return, the giver is entitled to a woman from the other’s intimate kinship group. Thus the negative prescriptions of the prohibition have positive counterparts. The idea of the alliance theory is thus of a reciprocal or a generalized exchange which founds affinity. This global phenomenon takes the form of a “circulation of women” which links together the various social groups in one whole: society.

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