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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Siobhan M. Mattison
ANTH 438
Seattle Campus

The Analysis of Kinship Systems

Data, theories, and analytical technique used in the study of kinship systems, including our own, from around the world. Prerequisite: either one 200-level ANTH course or LING 203.

Class description

It is easy to take our families, as well as the services they provide, for granted. Yet, substantial variation in family practices exists both within and among families. Even something as seemingly simple as how family is defined is quite variable. What is the basic unit of the family, if such a thing exists? What do families do and why? What are alternatives to traditional families? How do we begin to unravel and understand such variation? What methods are used to analyze such variation?

This course will provide a broad overview of the human family from both theoretical and empirical perspectives. Emphasis will be placed on understanding variation in structure and function of families, including age and gender roles, marriage and inheritance, and household composition. The utility of a singular framework with which to analyze family systems will be discussed by way of comparisons of existing frameworks in fields such as anthropology, behavioral ecology, and sociology. The course will attempt to ground theory in existing studies, both comparative and from within individual populations. Functional impacts of families will be discussed, including health and educational outcomes, and relevance to current debates about the definition of family.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

*Note: Pre-requisites removed for this offering

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Ricky Aguilar
Date: 05/04/2009