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Anthropology / Notes, Assignment/ Anthropology and its Branches

Notes Prepared by: Sir Liaqat Ali (Adwards Collage Peshawar)     ( All Rights Reserved) 


Anthropology is a discipline of infinite curiosity about human beings. The term Anthropology is derived from Greek words i.e. Anthropos which means man or human and logos which means study. So, anthropology is the scientific study of man/mankind/humanity. 


Phillip Kottak opines that anthropology is the holistic and comparative study of humanity. It is the systematic exploration of human biological and cultural diversity. Therefore, it leads anthropology to be divided into various sub-fields which are:


Physical or biological anthropology is the branch of anthropology that focuses on the physical/biological aspects of humankind. Major specialties within the sub-discipline include the origins and physical evolution of human beings; the study of the physical makeup and behavior of human beings‟ closet animal relatives, the nonhuman primates (such as apes and monkeys) and physical variation among contemporary human populations.


Anthropological linguistics or linguistic anthropology is the anthropological study of languages, ancient and modern, written and unwritten. Language, as defined by anthropological linguists, is more than just spoken words; it includes any kind of patterned communication between people, such as sign language, body language and even electronic communication. Among the many interests of anthropological linguists are the origins of human communication, clues to which may be found by studying how apes (our closest nonhuman relatives), communicate with one another; how the parts of the brain and body used in speaking developed in modern human beings; how ancient languages, handed down to us either in the form of written texts or as words incorporated into other languages, developed and changed through time; how children learn to speak; how certain sounds and tones of voice combine to make up a spoken language; and how language and culture mutually affect one another. 


The primary focus of archaeology is the material remains of human beings who lived in the past. These remains take two form i.e. artifacts (any material thing created by people such as tools, pottery, garbage, and even huge walled cities etc) and ecofacts (natural objects once used or altered by human beings such as grains of pollen or pieces of charcoal from ancient hearths). Since ecofacts are appropriate to be buried under layers of soil by the passage of time and the action of wind and water, the primary research method of archaeologists is excavation, improved by a variety of scientific tests, conducted in laboratories to determine the composition, age and function of excavated artifacts and ecofacts. 

Archaeology includes two major sub-fields i.e. prehistoric archaeology and historic archaeology. The culture of prehistoric people (those who left no written records) can be studied only through excavation and laboratory analysis which only possible due to prehistoric archaeology. In case of historic people, those who left written records that have survived to the present day, excavation and laboratory analysis supplement the written record which is often incomplete because people tend not to write down information that is well known to members of their community. 


Cultural anthropology (Social Anthropology) is the study of the culture of contemporary people (people of the present and recent past). Cultural Anthropologists study, describe and try to explain and understand the behaviours of contemporary people: their beliefs, values and social interactions; the physical products of their minds and hands; and the ways in which they communicate with one another. Sometimes cultural Anthropologists focuses on the members of one group-how they get the basic things they need for survival; how they interact with one another; how they clothe themselves, express their creative impulses, impose order on their lives, organize themselves into families and other groups, regulate their sexuality, worship their deities. But cultural anthropology also takes a broader view, comparing cultures with one another in order to address wider questions of human existence for example why cultures are so different from one another, why some people favour political equality while others prevent it, why some worship many gods while others only one, why some discourage premarital sex while others encourage it; whether any kind of human behaviour occurs so commonly around the world as to be considered average or normal. In the range of questions it addresses, cultural anthropology is the broadest of the other fields of anthropology. 


In the past, most people with advanced degrees in anthropology either became university or college professors, or did not make direct professional use of their anthropological training.

Over the last several decades, however, a different kind of anthropology has gained prominence that has been practiced since the nineteenth century and more oriented to practical ends. This is Applied Anthropology or sometimes practicing anthropology, in which anthropological data, perspectives, theory and methods to identify, assess and solve contemporary social problems in various sectors like business, education, government or social services etc. 


Today anthropology has become a broad-based study much more than any other scientific discipline as it has to deal with a wider variety of problems. Anthropology includes a broad range of approaches derived from both natural and social sciences. The place of social anthropology in relation to other social sciences is discussed here. Social anthropology has close relationship to these social sciences. It shares its subject-matter with many other disciplines, but it does not restrict itself to the problems of other disciplines.


Sociology is a science of society that studies human behaviour in groups. Anthropology is a science of man and studies human behaviour in social surroundings. Thus, it is clear that the subject matter of sociology and social anthropology is common to a great extent. Sociology and anthropology have highly influenced each other. Hoebel states that sociology and social anthropology in their broadest senses are one and the same. Evans Pritchard takes social anthropology as a branch of sociological studies that devotes to primitive societies. RadcliffeBrown suggests that anthropology be renamed with comparative sociology. Concerning the tendency in the United States, Levi-Strauss wants to regard sociology as a special form of anthropology. 

Even though social anthropology and sociology share an interest in social relations, organization and behaviour, there are important differences between these two disciplines. John Beattie (1964: 29) points out the difference in the area of study. He writes, “sociology is by definition concerned with the investigation and understanding of social relations, and with other data only in so far as they further this understanding, social anthropologists, although as we have seen they share this concern with sociologists, are interested also in other matters, such as people's beliefs and values, even where these cannot be shown to be directly connected with social behaviour”. 

Initially sociologists focus on industrial West; anthropologists, on non-industrial societies. Social systems studied by anthropologists are usually face-to-face in relation. It is true that a great deal of sociological research has been done in small groups, but these have usually been small groups in larger societies and not groups which are more or less coterminous with the whole society. This concern with social systems that are small in scale has led to a particular concern by social anthropologists with the idea of totality, the notion that societies are wholes, or at least can be studied as if they were.

Different methods of data collection and analysis emerged to deal with those different kinds of societies. To study large scale complex societies, sociologists use questionnaires and other means of gathering masses of quantifiable data. Sampling and statistical techniques have been basic to sociology. Traditional ethnographers studied small-scale societies without written records. One of their key methods is participant observation - taking part in events one is observing, describing and analysing. In addition, social anthropologists have mostly worked in unfamiliar cultures. That is why in anthropological field work, a sound knowledge of the language of the community being studied is indispensable for a people's categories of thought and the forms of their language are inextricably bound together. Sociologists usually suggest means for improvement along with its study. In comparison, the study of anthropology is more neutral and the anthropologists do not offer suggestion.



















The concept of culture is fundamental to Social anthropology, yet it is so complex a notion that anthropologists have never agreed on a single definition of the term. Culture, as all the things people collectively think, do, say, and make-in other words, their shared ideas, behaviours, languages, and artifacts. These include institutions such as marriage, political ideas, religious beliefs, customs, rituals, objects, art styles, games and much more. Different anthropologists defined culture in different words, some of them are as under:

1.      David Hicks defines culture as the customs, ideas, artifacts, and languages that human beings in groups share with and learn from one another. 

2.      Ember & Ember suggests that culture is the learned behaviours and ideas (beliefs, attitudes, values, and ideals) generally shared by the members of a society or other social group. 

3.      Edward Burnett Tylor illustrates that culture or civilization is that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. 


From the definitions, it is clear that culture has specific meaning and characteristics. Some of the salient characteristic features of culture are as under:

Figure. 2

1. Culture is Learned  

Learning cultural tradition is the unique capacity of human beings. In a particular group, human beings learn from each other. The process by which an individual learns the details of his or her particular culture is known as enculturation. There are three main ways in which the process of enculturation takes place i.e. through symbols, through imitation and through experience. For example, when a child born in a particular group, he/she learn the cultural traditions of that group like wearing clothes, cooking food, dancing, reading and writing etc. 

2. Culture is Shared

Culture is something shared. It is nothing that an individual can passes but shared by common people of a territory. For example, customs, traditions, values, beliefs are all shared by the people in a social situation. These beliefs and practices are adopted by most of the people equally, like in routine life, we express our culture continuously in our dress, food, work and other social activities. 

3. Culture is Symbolic  

Culture is symbolic. Symbolic thought is unique to humans and is crucial to cultural learning.

Every culture has its own symbols. A symbol is something, verbal (language) or non-verbal (gesture) that human beings use to stand for something else during communication, with which it has no necessary or natural connection. The symbols vary from culture to culture.

Every individual learns the symbols of his/her culture through the processes of enculturation. 

4. Culture is Holistic 

The various aspects of any culture are interrelated, something like the parts of a car‟s engine that, when functioning both individually and together, keep the whole car running smoothly.

Likewise, the various parts of culture are interrelated that work interconnectedly that contribute to the smooth running of a particular society‟s culture as a whole. For example, values system is interlinked with morality, customs, beliefs and religion that work interconnected. 

5. Culture is Transmitted

Culture is capable to transmit from one generation to the next through enculturation. Parents pass cultural traits to their children and in return they pass to their children and so on. Culture is not transmitted through genes but through language. Language is means to communication which passes cultural traits from one generation to another.

6. Culture Varies from Society to Society

Every society has its own culture and ways of behaving. It is not uniform everywhere but occurs differently in various societies. Every culture is unique in itself in a specific society. For example, values, customs, traditions, ideologies, religion, belief, practices are not similar but different in every society. However, the ways of eating, drinking, speaking, greeting, dressing etc are differs from one social situation to another in the same time.

7. Culture is Dynamic 

Culture is changing phenomena. Cultural change is a continuous process and its process undergoes changes but with different speed from society to society, generation to generation and time to time. A change in one aspect of culture may produce much broader cultural changes in a particular social group. 





Anthropologists apply different perspectives for exploring human cultures i.e. holistic, comparative and relativistic, which distinguish anthropology from other disciplines. The detail of each is as under: 

Holistic Approach  

To study a subject holistically is to attempt to understand all the factors that influence it and to interpret it in the context of all those factors. The holistic perspective means that no single aspect of a human culture can be understood unless its relationships to other aspects of the culture are explored. Holism requires, for example, that a fieldworker studying the rituals of people must investigate how those rituals are influenced by the people‟s family life, economic forces, political leadership, relationships between the sexes, and a host of other factors. The attempt to understand a community‟s customs, beliefs, values, and so forth holistically is one reason ethnographic fieldwork takes so much time and involves close contact with people. 

Taken literally, a holistic understanding of a people‟s customs and beliefs is probably not possible because of the complexity of human societies. But anthropologists have learned that ignoring the interrelationships among language, religion, art, economy, family, and other dimensions of life results in distortions and misunderstandings. The essence of the holistic perspective may be stated fairly simply: look for connections and interrelationships, and try to understand parts in the context of the whole.

Comparative Approach 

More than most people, anthropologists are aware of the diversity of the world‟s cultures.

The ideas and behaviours learned from upbringing and experience in one‟s own society may not apply to other peoples with different cultural traditions. Anthropology study that what is true about humanity through comparative approach across time and space. The comparative method basically means that one compares different social and cultural phenomena between cultures to identify similarities and differences. Comparative method enables the researcher to investigate that, is marriage the same in Pakistan, in Africa, in Europa, and China? What about religious belief, is it universal or does it vary? And what does this variety and unity actually mean for the human condition? For this purpose, one needs precise, applicable concepts that can lead to understanding not limited to just one culture. Thus, the comparative method goes to the core of the anthropological endeavour.

Relativistic Approach/Cultural Relativism 

The idea of cultural relativism was presented by an American Anthropologist-Franz Boas. Cultural relativism is the ability to understand a culture in its own context and not to make judgements by using the standards of one‟s own culture. It views that no one‟s culture is superior than another culture. Cultural relativism is contrast to ethnocentrism which is a belief that the moral standards, manners, attitudes and so forth of one‟s own culture are superior to those of other cultures. In holistic understanding of the term cultural relativism, it tries to promote the understanding of cultural practices that are unfamiliar to other cultures, such as eating insects, polygamy, wrapping infants in blankets or cloths, and circumcision (male & female) etc. 






Man lives in a society where several social institutions exist. Social institutions are the building blocks of a society which bring order and organization to the society by creating and maintaining societal norms. Every society has certain recognized and established set of rules, traditions and practices to satisfy humans needs. These rules, traditions and practices may be given the name of social institutions. These social institutions are the forms of procedure which are recognized and accepted by society and govern the relations between individuals and groups. For example, family, marriage, kinship, religion, economic and political

institutions etc. 


1.      Morton opines that social institutions are the patterns of living and social organizations that carry out the values and goals of a society. 

2.      Horton is of the opinion that social institution is an organized system of social relationships which embodies certain common values and procedures and meets

certain basic needs of society. 

3.      Landis suggests that social institutions are formal cultural structures devised to meet basic social needs. 

From the above definitions, it is concluded that social institution is an organized system of behaviours to satisfy basic human needs. 

General Characteristics of Social Institutions 

Social institutions ensure social harmony and regulate the behaviour of individuals in the society. Some of the characteristic features of social institutions are given below:

1.      Social institutions satisfy the basic needs of individuals in a society; 

2.      Social institutions provide roles for individuals. For example, division of labour. Like in our society the females primarily do indoor activities and males perform outdoor economic activities;

3.      Social institutions are the means of controlling individuals‟ behaviour;

4.      Social institutions have some definite procedures which are formed on the basis of certain rules and traditions;

5.      Besides, every social institution has some rules or traditions which must be compulsorily obeyed by the individuals. It means that social institution defines dominant social values.














Family is a universal social institution. It is the basis of human society. It is the most important and primary group comprised of people related to one another by blood, marriage or legal ties. The interpersonal relationships within the family make the family an endurable social unit which has tremendous influence on the life of an individual from birth until death.  


The word family has been taken over from Latin word “Famulus” which means a servant. Family has been defined by different scholars in different words. Some of the definitions are given below:

1.      Elliot and Merrill suggest that family is the biological social unit composed of husband, wife and children. 

2.      Maclver is of the opinion that family is a group defined by sexual relationship, sufficiently precise and enduring to provide for the procreation and upbringing of children.

3.      Murdock opines that family is a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adult of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults. 

Function of family

Family perform various functions in the society. According Murdock, family performs mainly four functions in a society, which are as follows:

1.      One of the significant functions which family perform, is shared residence. The family members of a family live in a common place. For example, in the patrilineal

and patriarchal society of Pakistan, the major responsibility of the parents is to arrange a separate residence for the marrying son and his future wife. After nikah, the bride is permanently shifted to her husband‟s house where both initiate marital relations in a common residence.

2.      Secondly, family fulfils the economic needs of its members. The family members are economically interdependent. Everywhere, there is division of labour among the family members based on sex and age. The economically independent family members fulfil the economic needs of its member, particularly of the dependent. Like in pakhtun societies, most of the females are primarily associated with indoor activities while the males perform outdoor economic activities. Therefore, the males fulfil the economic needs of its members. Moreover, the parents fulfil the economic needs of the children.  

3.      Another important function of family is the procreation of offspring. The married couple/couples of the family satisfy their sexual needs which lead to the reproduction of children that spread human species and perpetuate human race.

4.      Family is the basic social unit for the process of enculturation. Through enculturation, the immediate family members impart the basic rules and norms of social life to the children. Hence, culture is transmitted from one generation to another through family.  Types of Family

Family is a basic social unit and it exists everywhere in the world, in one form or another. Moreover, variations occur in it from time to time and place to place. There are various types of family i.e. based on birth, marriage, residence, ancestry or descent, authority and structure, which are explained below:


                              Types of Family

 Figure-3: Types of family

1.   Types of family based on Birth: 

1.1. Family of Orientation 

The family in which an individual is born and enculture, is his/her family of orientation. 

1.2. Family of Procreation  

The family in which a person gets marry is called his/her family of procreation. For example, husband‟s family is the family of procreation for the wife. 

2. Types of family based on marriage:

2.1 Monogamous family

Based on monogamous marriage, the family which consist of one husband and wife, including children (born or adopted) is known as monogamous family. 

2.2 Polygamous family

A family which is based on polygamous marriages, is known as polygamous family.

Polygamous family is of two types: 

2.2.1 Polygynous family

A family consisting of one husband and more than one wife, including all the children born to all the wives or adopted by each of them.  

2.2.1 Polyandrous family

A family consisting of one wife and more than one husband, including the children is known as polyandrous family. 

3. Types of family based on Residence 

3.1 Family of Patrilocal Residence 

After marriage, when a couple stays in the husband‟s house, is known as family with patrilocal residence.  

3.2 Family of Matrilocal Residence 

After marriage, when a couple stays in the wife‟s house, is known as family with matrilocal residence.

4. Types of family based on Ancestry or Descent

4.1 Patrilineal Family 

A family in which the ancestry or descent is traced through male line or father‟s side is called a patrilineal family. In patrilineal families, the succession of property is through male line. 




4.2 Matrilineal Family 

A family in which the ancestry or decent is traced through female line or mother is known as matrilineal family. In matrilineal families, the succession of property is through female


5. Types of family based on Authority 

5.1 Patriarchal Family 

A family in which the man is head of the family and authority is vested in him, is known as patriarchal family. Patriarchal families are commonly found in patrilineal societies, since most societies in the world are patrilineal. Patriarchal families are patrilocal in nature. For example, pukhtun society is a patrilineal patriarchal. 

5.2 Matriarchal Family 

A family in which the woman is head of the family and authority is vested in her, is known as matriarchal family. Matriarchal families are generally found in matriarchal societies which are very limited in number all over the world. Matriarchal societies are found in some parts of Latin America, Africa and India (Khasis and Garos etc). Such families are matrilocal in nature. 

6. Types of Family based Structure 

6.1 Nuclear Family 

A family comprised of a husband, wife and dependent/unmarried children, is called nuclear family. It is also known as conjugal/elementary/simple family. It consists of two generations only. In all modern societies, nuclear family is the most common type of family. 

Husband + Wife + Dependent/Unmarried Children = Nuclear/Conjugal/Simple/Elementary Family


                                Figure-4: Nuclear family

6.2  Joint Family 

The family in which there is husband, wife and their married and unmarried children and sometime husband‟s parents and his brothers and sisters, is known as joint family. In joint families, all the members have a shared kitchen system and common property.  

Husband + Wife + Married and Unmarried Children + Husband’s Parents and, his Brothers and Sisters = Joint Family 

6.3. Extended Family 

Extended family is similar to that of joint family but the difference is that of the kitchen and common property. In extended family, all the members (usually nuclear families) either having the relation of siblings or parents and children, they live in the same house but the kitchen is separated. Moreover, the extended families consist of a series of relatives either from male or female lines but not of both. 






All societies known today have the custom of marriage. Marriage is one of the universal social institutions, established and nourished by human society for the perpetuation of sexual needs and procreation of children. It is closely connected to the institution of family because it admits men and women to a family life. Marriage is a culturally recognized union between people, called spouses that establish rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them and their inlaws.

Historical Background or Evolution of Marriage:

Early social thinkers, basically the followers of evolutionism were of the opinion that human beings lived in a state of promiscuity where individual marriages did not exit. In such a society, all the men had access to all women. As a result, the children born were the responsibility of the society at large. This gave rise to group marriages (polygamous marriages) to bring regulations and general order in the society. However, later on the natural instinct of jealousy imbedded in human beings which has been assumed as the reason behind single marriages (monogamous marriages) to restore harmony in a society. 


Marriage is a universal institution but it varies from time to time and place to place. Different anthropologists defined marriage in their own words. Some of the definitions are as follow:

1.      Bailly is of the opinion that marriage is a culturally defined relationship between a man and a woman from different families, which regulates sexual intercourse and legitimizes children. 

2.      Murdock defined that marriage is a universal institution that involves residential cohabitation, economic cooperation and the formation of the nuclear family.

3.      William Stephens defined marriage as a socially legitimate sexual union, begun with public pronouncement undertaken with the idea of permanence, assumed with more or less explicit marriage contract which spells out reciprocal economic obligations between spouses and their future children. 

4.      According to notes and quarries in anthropology 1951, “marriage is a union between a man and woman such that children born to the woman are recognized as legitimate offspring of both the parents”.

Types of marriage 

There are mainly two types of marriage: 

1. Monogamy 

Monogamy is the composite of two words i.e. “mono” means one while “gamy” means to marry. Therefore, a form of marriage in which both partners have just one spouse at the same time is known as monogamy. Monogamy is very common and prevails in many

societies of the world particularly in the industrialized societies. 

2. Polygamy 

Polygamy is the composite of two words i.e. “poly” means many and “gamy” means to marry. Therefore, a form of marriage in which a person (man or woman) is allowed to marry with more than one at the same time, is known as polygamy. There are two types of polygamy i.e. polygyny and polyandry. 

                          Figure-7: Polygamy  

2.1 Polygyny 

A form of marriage in which a man is allowed to marry with two or more women at the same time, is known as polygyny. Polygyny is more common among the pastoralist and agricultural communities because women do most of the work and mainly contribute in the economic activities. Similarly, polygyny is practiced in those societies where the number of females is greater than that of the males. Moreover, polygynous marriages are preferred to demonstrate a high social status in the society. Polygynous marriages exist in most parts of the world, particularly in Muslim societies. 

2.2 Polyandry 

A form of marriage in which a woman is allowed to marry with two or more men at the same time, is known as polyandry. If all the husbands are brother then it is called as fraternal polyandry and in case the husbands are not brothers then such type of polyandry is known as non-fraternal polyandry. As compared to polygyny, polyandry is not common rather found in fewer societies of the world. Polyandrous marriages are found in those societies where the number of females is lessor than males, or to keep the property inside the family, or to control population. Moreover, male travel for trade, commerce and military operations also encourage polyandrous marriages. Examples of such marriages are found in some parts of India (Toda and Nayar), China (Moso), Sri Lanka, Nepal and Africa etc. 

Rules of Marriage 

Societies have their own rules and norms related to marriage. Every society has certain rules and norms which deal with whom to marry or with whom not to marry or who is preferred to marry. While selecting one‟s mate, one has to follow certain rules and choose the bride/groom within these rules. These rules may be proscriptive, prescriptive or preferential.

1. Proscriptive Rules 

These rules direct to whom a person should not marry. These rules are mainly concerned with incest taboos. Incest Taboo is a universal norm for almost all societies which pertain to restriction in marriage and sexual relations among certain categories of close relatives generally related to blood, like father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister etc. 

2. Prescriptive Rules 

These rules direct to whom a person should/can marry. Prescriptive rules are of two types i.e. Endogamy and Exogamy. 

Figure-9: Prescriptive rules of marriage 

2.1 Endogamy 

Endo means “inside or within” while gamy means to marry. So, endogamy is a rule of marriage which bound an individual to marry inside or within a specified group. The group may class, caste, race, village and tribe etc. For example, the Hindus practice caste endogamy marriages. 

2.2 Exogamy 

Exo means “outside” while gamy means to marry. So, exogamy is a rule of marriage, prohibiting individuals from marrying a member of their own social group or category. Exogamy links people into a wider social network that nurtures, helps, and protects them in times of needs. Exogamy is commonly followed in most societies of the world. 

3. Preferential Rules 

These rules are related to whom a person can prefer to marry. Best examples of preferential rules are among cousins (cross or parallel), levirate and sororate marriages.

3.1 Parallel Cousin Marriage 

When marriage takes place between the children of the siblings of the same sex

(brother/brother or sister/sister), is called parallel cousin marriage. 

Father’s brother’s children or mother’s sister’s children = Parallel cousins  

3.2 Cross-cousin Marriage 

When marriage takes place between the children of the siblings of the opposite sex (brother/sister or sister/brother), is called cross-cousin marriage. 

Father’s sister’s children or mother’s brother’s children = Cross-cousin marriage 

Both, parallel cousin and cross-cousin marriages are practiced in Pakistani society.

Paternal cousin marriages are mostly preferred, particularly in rural areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

3.3 Levirate Marriage 

In many societies, cultural norms often force individuals to marry the sibling of the deceased spouse. “Levir” is a Latin word which means husband‟s brother. After the death of husband when a woman marries her husband‟s brother, is called levirate marriages. 

3.4 Sororate Marriage 

“Sorror” is a Latin word which means wife‟s sister. After the death of wife when a man marries his wife‟s sister, is known as sororate marriage. Both, levirate and sororate marriages are practiced in pakhtun societies.



Kinship is one of the basic and universal social institutions. It is one of the important organizing components of society. Kinship is a system of social relationships between individuals and groups that build up through culturally recognized principles. These relationships mainly based on consanguinity, affinity and fictive. 


Kinship is defined by various scholars. Some of the definitions are given below:

1.      According to Giddens, kinship comprises either genetic ties or ties initiated by marriage. 

2.      Neil opines that kinship refers to the culturally defined relationships between individuals who are commonly thought of as having family ties. 

3.      According to Hill and Turner, the social relationships deriving from blood ties (real or and supposed) and marriage are collectively referred to as kinship. 

Keeping in view the above definitions, it is therefore concluded that kinship is a set of social relationships based on blood (consanguinity) or marriage (affinity) or adoption (fictive). 

Types of Kinship

There are three types of kinship i.e. consanguineous kinship, affinal kinship and fictive kinship.

1. Consanguineous Kinship 

Consanguineous kinship refers to the relationships between the people established on consanguinity (from Latin roots meaning blood). Consanguinity is a relationship between people, based on the blood. Like the relationships between parents and children, and between siblings i.e. brothers and sisters. These relationships are said to be the basic and universal in relationships, particularly between the parents and children. Moreover, in patrilineal societies, someone relationships with paternal relatives i.e. father‟s father (grandfather), father‟s sisters (aunts), and father‟s brothers (uncles) and their children are consanguineous relationships. 

2. Affinal Kinship

The term affinity means relations by marriage. Affinal kinship refers to the relationships established only after marriage. Marriage establishes various relationships between people which are called affinal relationships. For example, the relationships of husband with wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law etc.  

It is evident from the above figure:

In pair a, the male has consanguineous relationships with the males in b, c, e, f and h

Similarly, he has consanguineous relationships with the females in d and g Moreover, he has affinal relationships with the males in d and g. 


3. Fictive Kinship

Fictive kinship is a term used by different ethnographers to describe social relationships that are based on neither consanguineal nor affinal relations. David Hicks is of the opinion that fictive kinship is a condition in which people who are not biologically related behave as if they are relatives of a certain type. Like many other Asian societies, in Pakistani society, the adoption of children is the example of fictive relationships. 

Kinship Degree 

The relationship among individuals or people depends on the level of closeness and distance of its relationship. It means that closeness and distance are based on how these individuals are related to each other. On the basis of closeness or distant relationship, kins can be divided into three main types. 

1. Primary Kin

Primary kin are those who directly belong to blood or marital group. Among these are included one‟s own brother, sister, father and mother. Moreover, the relationship exists

between husband and wife.

2. Secondary Kin

Secondary kin are those who are closely related to one‟s own parents and siblings (primary kin) e.g. one‟s own grandparents or spouses of the siblings etc.

3. Tertiary Kin 

Tertiary kin are those who are secondary kin of one‟s primary kin. The kin of this kind include the parent‟s sibling‟s children, sister-in-law of one‟s brother or son-in-law of one‟s

uncle etc.   

Unilineal Descent 

Rules of descent connect individuals with particular sets of kin because of known or presumed common ancestry. Unilineal descent refers to the fact that a person is affiliated with a group of kin through descent links of one sex only-either males only or females only.

Thus, unilineal descent can be either patrilineal or matrilineal. 

1. Patrilineal Descent  

Patrilineal descent affiliates an individual with kin of both sexes related to him or her through men only. As figure-12 indicates, in patrilineal systems the children in each generation belong to the kin group of their father; their father, in turn belongs to the group of his father; and so on. Although a man‟s sons and daughters are all members of the same descent group, affiliation with that group is transmitted only by the sons to their children. Just as patrilocal residence is much more common than matrilocal residence, patrilineal descent is more common than matrilineal descent. 


2. Matrilineal Descent 

Matrilineal descent affiliates an individual with kin of both sexes related to him or her through women only. In each generation, then, children belong to the kin group of their mother (see figure 13). Although a woman‟s sons and daughters are all members of the same descent group, only her daughters can pass on their descent affiliation to their children. 


Anthropology of religion is the scientific investigation of the diversity of human religions. Religion is a universal institution and the core of all primitive and civilized cultures. It varies from society to society and time to time. Religion is a supernaturalism that consists of a system of belief, thought and action. All religions essentially exhibit a mental attitude towards super nature, which is manifested in beliefs and rituals. The belief is considered as the relatively static part of the religion while ritual is the dynamic part. Ritual comprises of different actions that aim to establish a connection between the performing individual and the supernatural power. Belief, on the other hand stands as a charter for the rituals and provides a rationale for the religious rituals.  


1.      Edward Burnett Tylor defined religion as the belief in spiritual beings. 

2.      Emile Durkheim defined religion as a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things. 

3.      Carol Ember & Melvin Ember suggests that religion is any set of beliefs and practices pertaining to supernatural power, whether that power be forces, gods, spirits, ghosts or demons.

Elements of Religion 

Religion pervades practically in all the societies but there is an endless diversity of the forms of religious belief and practice. The form which it assumes in a society is determined by a host of complex factors. Different societies emphasize different elements of religion. Some of the basic elements of religion, as suggested by Clarke Wallace are discussed below:             

1. Prayer 

Prayer is one of the defining features of religion. Prayer is offered either as thanksgiving, request or demand from the supernatural. Prayer is generally distinguished from ordinary use of language by a special stance, gesture, or tone of voice and speech pattern.  For example, the Muslim offers prayer five times a day. 

2. Music 

Music is a nearly universal part of religion. Musical instruments, singing, chanting, and dancing are variously used for their integrating effect on the people. Rodney Needham identified that drums, rattles, bells and gongs used in religions throughout the world as devices to attract the attention of the supernatural. Furthermore, musical instruments are used universally to mark the transition of a person from one state to another.

3. Physiological Exercise

Efforts to make an ecstatic spiritual state by directly manipulating physiological processes are found in very religious system. Like physical discomfort produced by torture, prolong sleeplessness, cold and fatigue. Likewise, the deprivation of someone from eating food, drinking water and breathe normal atmospheric air to acquire euphoria.

4. Exhortation or Preaching

In every religious system, there are occasions on which one person addresses another as a representative of divinity. The representative of the divinity (shaman, priest, religious scholar and prophet etc.) is closer to the supernatural than ordinary person. He receives messages from the supernatural and passes them on to the people. He tells the people what the supernatural expect and informs them about what behaviour is pleasing and what is displeasing.

5. Reciting the Code

In every society there is a sacred oral or written literature which asserts what is truth in religion. This code contains statements of the pantheon and cosmology. Moreover, it contains the moral commands of prophets and of gods. The sacredness of this body of literature depends upon the closeness of its connection with divinity. It is frequently recited in the course of ritual but it may also be told again and again, studied and discussed in more or less profane settings. For example, the Bible is the Christian holy book. Similarly, the holy Quran is Muslim sacred book. 

6. Mana (Touching things)

In every religion, certain sacred objects (human, non-human, animate or inanimate, part or whole) are touched with the idea that some of the power passes to the subject. For example, relics, good-luck symbols and sacred stones etc. are touched with the belief to transmit some of their power to the individual.

7. Taboo

A taboo is an activity or thing that is forbidden. Every religion has a set of taboos. For example, eating cow‟s meat is forbidden (taboo) in Hinduism. Similarly, adultery and fornication is tabooed in Islam.

8. Sacrifices 

Sacrifices are found in every known society. Some societies make sacrifices to a supernatural in order to influence the supernatural‟s action, either to divert anger or to attract good will. Characteristic of all sacrifices is that something of value is given up to the supernatural, whether it be food, drink, sex, household goods, or the life of an animal or person. For example, the Muslims slaughter animals (sacrifice of animals in Eid-Ul-Adha) to get the favour of Allah. 

Function of Religion 

Religion performs various useful functions in human societies. Some of them are as under: 

1. Religion provides psychological support

Human life is uncertain. He struggles for his survival among the uncertainties, insecurities and dangers. Some-times he feels helplessness and frustration. It is the religion which consoles and encourages him in all such time of crisis. Religion gives right shelter to him. He gets psychological and emotional support. It encourages him to face his life and problems.

2. Religion inculcates social virtues

Religion promotes the major social virtues like truth, honesty, non-violence, service, love, and discipline etc. Followers of religion internalize these virtues and become disciplined citizens of the society.

3. Religion promotes social solidarity

Religion gives rise to the spirit of brotherhood and unity. Durkheim viewed that religion strengthens social solidarity. A.W. Green pointed out that religion is the supreme integrating and unifying force in human society. This is a general observation that common belief, common sentiment, common worship, participation in common rituals etc. are the significant cementing factors which strengthen unity and solidarity among the people. 

4. Religion is an agent of socialization and social control

Religion is one of the most important agents of socialization and social control. It has significant role in organizing and directing social life. It helps in preserving social norms and strengthening social control. It socializes individual and exercises control over both individual and group in various ways. As an informal means, religion regulates the activities of people in its own way. Organisation like temples, mosques, church, Gurdwaras etc. also control the behaviour of the individuals at different level. 

5. Religion promotes welfare

Religion teaches the people to serve the masses and promote their welfare. It gives message that “service to humanity is service to God”. For this reason, people spend money to feed poor and needy. Religion develops the philanthropic attitude of the people and thereby injects the idea of mutual help and co-operation. With the influence of religious belief different religious organisations engage themselves in various welfare activities.

6. Religion gives recreation

Religion plays a charming role in providing recreation to the people. Religious rites and festivals (birth, marriage, death and other significant events) are more or less performed in every religion which gives relief to the people from mental exertion.

7. Religion serves a means to provide answers to ultimate questions

Why are we here on the earth? Is there a supreme being? What happens after death? All religions have certain ideas and beliefs that provide answer to the aforesaid questions. These beliefs are based on faith that life has a purpose and there is someone or something that control the universe. It defines the spiritual world and gives meaning to the divine. Because of its beliefs concerning people‟s relationships to a beyond, religion provides an explanation

for evens that seem difficult to understand.

8. Religion Strengthens Self-confidence

Religion is an effective means to strengthen self-confidence. There are certain beliefs like

„work is worship‟, „duty is divine‟, „result in predestined‟ etc. which is found in various religions gives strength to the individual and promotes self-confidence.



















Human groups have developed ways in which public decision-making, leadership,

maintenance of social order and cohesion, protection of group rights, and safety from external threats are handled. Anthropologists identify these as political systems or political organizations. 

Types of Political Organization 

Elman Service (political anthropologist) divided political organization into four types i.e. Band, Tribe, Chiefdom and State. Each type is differentiated from each other based on types of leadership, societal integration and cohesion, decision making mechanisms and degree of control over people. 

Band Organization  

Band is an un-centralized, small and nomadic group of people. Band comprises of 100 people or less and is politically autonomous. It occupies a large territory, so the population density is low. Some anthropologists contend that this type of political organization characterized nearly all societies before the development of agriculture or until about 10,000 years ago. Societies with band organization are generally egalitarian hunter-gatherers. Examples include the Mbuti and Ju‟/hoansi in Africa, the Netsilik in Canada, the Lapp of Scandinavia, the Tiwi in Australia, and the Ainu in Japan.

Characteristic Features of Bands

Following are the main characteristic features of Band society. 

1. Type of subsistence 

Band organizations are nomadic and seasonally move from one area to another. They are hunting gatherers and do not produce food. The male members of band hunt wild animals and fishes while the female and children gather wild fruits and nuts. All the food is collected and then redistributed equally.

2. Type of leadership

There is no permanent leader in a band organization who leads the band in every situation. The leader of the band is informal. Every situation has a separate leader based on personal capabilities i.e. most proficient hunter or a person most accomplished in rituals. However, there is a headman who acts as arbitrator in decision making.

3. Major means of social integration

Marriage alliances are the major means of social integration in band organization. Marriages are exogamous for the purpose to unite larger groups. Bands are interdependent on each other.

4. Political succession

There may be hereditary headman but actual leadership falls to those with special knowledge, charisma and personal capabilities.

5. Major type of economic exchange

“Reciprocity” give and take of food items. The bands exchange food items in between. For example, Kula ring exchange.

6.      Social stratification

Band societies are egalitarian. Every individual has same status with no classes.

7.      Ownership of private property

There is very little or no sense of private property. Everything is communal in bands.

8.      Examples

The Kung Bushman (Africa) and Shoshone (US).

2. Tribal Organization 

Societies with tribal organization are similar to those with band organization in being uncentralized and egalitarian. But in contrast with band societies, they generally are food producers, have a higher population density and are more sedentary. In tribal societies, authority is distributed in many small groups like clans and age-sets, that can integrate more than one local group into a larger whole. According to Elman Service the defining quality of tribe that which separates it from the band is the existence of pan-tribal sodalities that unite the various self-sufficient communities into wider social groups.

Characteristic Features of Tribe

        1.         Type of subsistence

In tribes, there is shifting/extensive agriculture, horticulture and pastoralism. Therefore, more food is produced by the people. 

        2.         Type of leadership

In tribes, there is charismatic headman. The person with specific abilities and capabilities is selected as headman. The headman has no power to regulate but some in group decision making.

        3.          Major means of social integration

Pan-tribe sodalities based on kinship and voluntary associations are the means of integration.

        4.          Political succession

There are no formal means of political succession but a charismatic person is selected as leader. 

        5.         Types of economic exchange

Reciprocity is mean of economic exchange in tribes; however trade may be more developed than in bands.

        6.         Social stratification

Like band organizations, the tribes are also egalitarian. There is no concept of class or ranks.

All individuals have equal status.

        7.         Ownership of property

Unlike bands, there is concept of property in tribes. The ownership of property is communal.

Lineages having communal ownership of agricultural land and cattle.

        8.         Examples

The Nuer (Sudan) and Kpelle (West Africa).


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