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Chapter 8: Social Organization and Kinship

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Reading Assignment: Chapter 8: Social Organization and Kinship

In this assignment you will learn about the building blocks of society: groups, statuses, roles, division of labor, and rank. You will discover how our behavior is governed by culturally defined social roles and how these influence our standing in society. You will learn that peoples' statuses in life and the roles are expected to play are sometimes assigned them for very arbitrary reasons such as their sex or race. You will learn the principles that govern the concept of descent.

You will become familiar with the various kinds of descent groups that have formed the basic social organization of most human societies throughout history.

Finally, you will learn how people symbolize their family relationships with various kinship terminology systems.

Assignment Overview

MCQ   ::  Matching   ::  True/False  ::   Short Essay

MCQ - Chapter 8: Social Organization and Kinship

1. Human groups differ from those found in other social animals in which of the following ways?

a. They have economic significance.
b. They have no ranking.
c. They identify themselves symbolically.
d. They have geographical boundaries.

2. Which of the following statuses is characterized by high honor but little power?

a. a judge
b. a traffic cop
c. a pastor
d. a garbage collector

3. What best defines class?

a. All classes are kinds of castes.
b. class is a broad stratum that is made up of unrelated families.
c. Membership is determined by birth and individuals cannot move from one social stratum to another.
d. Class is based on religious concepts.

4. Which of the following best defines a minority group?

a. a numerically small group compared with other groups in the same society
b. people who hold master statuses with low power and honor
c. an ethnic group
d. people who cannot hold a master status

5. Which of the following is true of the idea of kinship?

a. It is synonymous with biological relationships.
b. It is based on a connection between siblings.
c. It is a way of defining social relatives, based on a biological connection.
d. Each child is the offspring of two parents.

6. Kindreds are most typical of which of the following?

a. industrialized and foraging societies
b. horticultural and foraging societies
c. pastoral and industrialized societies
d. pastoral and horticultural societies

7. Scottish clans traced ancestry with which of the following descent systems?

a. patrilineality
b. double descent
c. bilaterality
d. ambilaterality

8. Patrilineality is LEAST likely under which of the following circumstances?

a. when fraternal work groups are important in making a living.
b. in frontier areas
c. where internal warfare is common.
d. where man are absent from home for prolonged periods.

9. Which of the following kinship systems is used by most people in Canada and the United States?

a. Hawaiian
b. Eskimo
c. Omaha
d. Sudanese

10. Crow kinship terminology is associated with which of the following descent systems?

a. matrilineality
b. patrilineality
c. double descent
d. bilaterality

Matching Exercise - Chapter 8: Social Organization and Kinship

1. social organization
2. group
3. social structure
4. status
5. complementary statuses
6. ascribed statuses
7. roles
8. master status
9. minorities
10. ethnic group
11. class
12. castes

13. kin
14. descent
15. kinship
16. bilateral descent
17. unilineal descent
18. lineage
19. clan
20. kindred
21. Eskimo kinship terminology>
22. Hawaiian kinship terminology
23. fictive kinship



a kinship group whose members can trace their lines of descent to the same ancestor



social classes membership in which is determined by birth, so that an individual cannot legitimately change class membership by acquiring a new status



the relationships between the groups, statuses, and division of labor that structure the interaction of people within society



kinship group whose members believe themselves to be descended from a common ancestor far enough in the past that they cannot trace their specific genealogical ties to one another



relatives connected to one another by some combination of descent and marriage



a system for classifying people who are related to one another by ties of descent or by ties of marriage



a system of tracing descent lines equally through both parents



the simplest kinship designation, using the terms parents, siblings, and children



the skills, abilities, and ways of acting toward others that belong to each status of a society



an immigrant group who have maintained a distinctive cultural heritage while also becoming participating members of a new, larger society and its culture



socially created kinship relationships involving individuals who are not otherwise considered relatives either by descent or marriage



social positions that one is assumed to occupy by virtue of the group into which one happens to be born--for instance, one's sex or race



a social status that is so important that it cannot be ignored



bilateral kinship system in which terms for mother, father, brother, and sister are used for relatives outside the nuclear family



a pair of statuses, each of which has roles that are different from but compatible with the roles of the other



those with a low-ranked master status



a broad, ranked stratum within society made up of unrelated families that have more-or-less equal power and prestige.



a culturally defined relationship that one individual may have with one or more other individuals; the position within a group that each member holds



a system of tracing descent through a single sex line rather than through both parents equally



two or more individuals engaged in a common activity



a kinship group in a bilateral descent system that consists of the known relatives of a living individual



the part of social organization made up of groups and their relationships with each other



the cultural recognition of kinship connections between a child and one or both of his or her parent's kin

True/False - Chapter 8: Social Organization and Kinship






1. Social organization consists of groups, statuses, and division of labor.



2. Ascribed statuses are given to people in recognition of their accomplishments.



3. Master statuses are defined as statuses that overshadow the other statuses a person might have.



4. Homophobia is most likely to occur in societies where the gender roles of men and women are particularly distinct and the roles of women are ranked below those of men.



5. Racist ideas change from generation to generation, depending on social values.



6. Kinship is the same as biological relationship.



7. Matrilineal descent is an effective means of unifying groups of women as decision-making bodies.



8. Patrilineal descent and matrilineal descent are never both used in the same society.



9. Kinship terminology symbolically portrays the distinctions between relatives that are socially important in our lives.



10. Iroquois kinship may be more common in matrilineal societies in which marriage is permitted between both cross cousins and parallel cousins.

Short Essay Questions - Chapter 8: Social Organization and Kinship

1. How does social structure differ from social organization, and what does the concept of social structure have to do with groups?

2. Why do statuses always come in pairs?

3. Give three examples of ascribed statuses and three examples of achieved statuses.

4. What are roles and division of labor? In what kind of society is the division of labor based solely upon age and gender?

5. What are the two basic components of social rank?

6. What subsistence technologies are associated with egalitarian societies? What economic condition is necessary before ranked societies can develop? What subsistence technology tends to give rise to stratified societies?

7. How were members of Navajo clans organized geographically? How could this benefit individual members of a clan?

8. What kinds of society are most likely to have on kindreds rather than unilineal descent groups?

9. Briefly outline the likely historical sequence in which the various descent groups came into existence.

10. What group of relatives are particularly contrasted with other relatives by the Eskimo kinship system of kin terms and under what social conditions do you suppose it would be most useful for people to label their relatives with this system?

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, January 04). Chapter 8: Social Organization and Kinship. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License