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Open Access Publications from the University of California


  • Author(s): Jorion, Paul J.M.
  • et al.

The capacity of kinship networks to be multi-functional, i.e. to shape other domains of the social life such as religion or the economy, reflects their function of channeling information flows. The more tightly the kinship network is structured into self-reproducing exogamous units, the better it resists the historical trend of losing its function as information channel and jointly its grip on the other aspects of the social life. For kinship networks to hold their multi-functionality, do actors need to be aware of their structure? In other terms, do the rules need to be explicit and followed in full awareness by the participants to the network? Or are the structuring principles able to operate behind the scenes even when their subjective representation is absent? The author reports on this the views expressed in personal conversations by his former professors: Lévi-Strauss, Fortes, Leach, Needham, Goody, Barnes and Macfarlane. In supporting the second view, that the awareness of the actors is indifferent, quantitative anthropology and psychoanalysis reveal their surprising affinity.

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