MARRIAGE,FAMILY AND KINSHIP IN SOCIOLOGY
: SEIIED BENIAMIN HOSSEINI
SUBMITTED TO :
Legitimacy affects the offspring of the marriage as well as the spouses themselves. In asserting what hecalled the “principle of legitimacy,” Malinowski (1929) stated that in all societies a socially recognized father has been regarded as indispen–sable to the child. A legal marriage, then, gives a woman a sociallyrecognized husband and her children a socially recognized father. According to Zimmerman (1947), thepenalties attached to il–legitimacy vary directly with the power of the extended family; thus, the penaltiesare heavy in societies characterized by the extended-family system and light where the nuclear familyprevails. From a sociological point of view, the significance of legitimacy is that it is a necessary conditionfor the family to carry out its function of position-conferring. In this sense, the critical meaning of bastardy isnot that the child has
status but rather that he lacks
position and status in his society.
Variations in familial organization
Cultural expectations pertaining to marriage are affected by variations in familial organization. In Westerncivilization it appears that the power of the family and the size of the effective kin group (i.e., of the familialstructure) have varied inversely with the complexity of the society of which the effective kin group is a part.Zimmerman (1947), who extensively analyzed the civilizations of ancient Athens and Rome, reports that inthe early stages of both of these civilizations (i.e., when both societies were relatively simple) there existedwhat he calls the “trustee” type of familial organization; whereas in their late (and, to Zimmerman,decadent) stages, Athens and Rome developed much more complex societies and simpler familialstructures, which he describes as “atomistic.” The kernel of Zimmer- man’s distinction lies in the locus of power. Where the trustee type of family exists, much power is located in the extended family. The head of the family, as the responsible center of familial authority, influences the behavior of the family members,and the extended family feels responsible for the behavior of its members. Where the atomistic type of family prevails, much power is located outside the kin group in specialized institutions. As the family losespower, its structure shifts from the extended family system to the nuclear family system. In the process of making this shift, according to Zimmerman, the divorce rate goes up and the birth rate goes down. Arguingthat there are other lines of development than those of the West noted by Zimmerman, Goode (1963)holds, as we shall see below, that whether the divorce rate goes up as a society becomes more complexdepends on the nature of the familial structure at the start of the process.One way of formulating variation in the family’s power and size is to speak of its functioning as a politicalunit. Moreover, the family may show variation in other kinds of functioning. In some settings the family isthe basic economic unit that creates and distributes goods and services. In many settings it is the principalsocial unit responsible for socializing and educating the young. And in some settings, especially whereancestor worship is practiced, the family carries out the religious function. In general, as societies becomemore complex, specialized societal structures develop for the carrying out of these functions, with theresult that the family loses some of its functions; indeed such a state of affairs is the meaning of societalcomplexity.Taking account of Asian and African as well as Western societies, Goode (1963) agrees that most familysystems of the world are moving toward a small-family system based on the nuclear family. Because the