Kinship networks and discrete structure theory: Applications and implications
White DR, Jorion P
SOCIAL NETWORKS
18 (3): 267-314 AUG 1996

Document type: Article    Language: English    Cited References: 49    Times Cited: 5   

Abstract:
Confusions between substantive and relational concepts of kinship as a social network have led to a number of problems that are clarified by a temporally ordered relational theory of network structure. The ordered-network approach gives rise to a novel means of graphing the social field of kinship relations, while allowing kinship to be locally defined in culturally relative terms. Its utility is exemplified in applications to kinships among US Presidents, Old Testament Canaanites, and native Australians of Groote Eylandt. The formal concepts treated in the mapping of kinship networks are: kinship axioms, parental graph structure, core, circuits of consanguineally and affinally linked kin, sides and divides, homeomorphic mappings, homomorphisms as potentially simplifying mappings of kinship, elementary structure, and order-structure. Representational theorems are proven about homeomorphisms, cores and circuits, and the ambiguity of elementary structures. The last set of theorems leads to clarifying and redefining some of the basic concepts of elementary, semi-complex and complex structures of kinship in terms of properties of generationally ordered networks. The conclusions of the formal argument are 'post-structural' in the narrow sense of demonstrating the need for specifying contingent historical processes in the structural analysis of kinship as a social field. The open-ended approach to change, one that is implied by the study of ordered structures that unfold in a temporal succession, connects to issues of population variability, selection, and evolutionary processes. The kinship structures that are mapped in this approach are not intended as any sort of complete representations of kinship 'systems', but merely as scaffoldings that help to bring into view kinship as a social field, providing a baseline for other mappings (which may be superimposed) of social processes such as communicative fields, exchange processes, transmission of learned behaviors, social rights and inheritance, political and religious succession, and the like.

Addresses:
White DR, UNIV CALIF IRVINE,INST MATH BEHAV SCI,IRVINE,CA 92717
MAISON SCI HOMME,F-75006 PARIS,FRANCE

Publisher:
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, AMSTERDAM