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Kinship Theory: A Paradigm Shift


The received view regarding the centrality of kinship terminologies in kinship systems assumes that terminologies are genealogically constrained. This assumption ignores the generative logic of kinship terminologies, hence the need for a new paradigm. It is argued that kinship systems are based on two conceptual systems: the logic of genealogical tracing and the logic of kin term products. Structural implications of the generative logic of terminological structures are discussed, including the logical basis for the difference between descriptive and classificatory terminologies and transformations that may be made between different kinship terminologies through simple changes in structural equations. Connection between ethnographic observations and structural properties are identified.

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