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2: Social Institutions

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    Learning Objectives

    • Economic Organization, including production (subsistence strategies) and distribution
    • Kinship, Family, and Marriage
    • Political Systems
    • Illness & Healing
    • Expressive Culture: Religion

    • 2.1: Subsistence Strategies
      All cultures need ways to produce goods and distribute them for consumption. This is the essence of an economic system. The forms these take vary across the globe and make involve interaction with family or non-family. It many involve work from the home or it may be with a corporation. Some economic systems support the independence of families, while others result in a greater, albeit oft unacknowledged, interdependence.
    • 2.2: Economic Organization
      Once people have produced goods those goods need to be distributed for consumption. This guided through several principles: redistribution, reciprocity, and market. These principles are not mutually exclusive and all may be found within the same society.
    • 2.3: Kinship
      Kinship patterns determine how we connect with others through descent and marriage. It is a basic system of social organization. Kin that are related to us through descent (parent to child) are called consanguine or blood relatives. Anthropologists oftentimes discuss how many links there are between individuals.
    • 2.4: Family
      Family is a “basic unit of economic cooperation and stability” that generally includes at least one parent or parent substitute and children. Families provide both economic and social support for its members. It is the primary group responsible for rearing children and is where the enculturation process begins (enculturation refers to the process of learning the culture we are born into). The children in the family are not always the biological offspring.
    • 2.5: Marriage
      All societies have customs governing how and under what circumstances sex and reproduction can occur--generally marriage plays a central role in these customs. Marriage is a socially approved union that united two or more individuals as spouses. Implicit in this union is that there will be sexual relations, procreation, and permanence in the relationship.
    • 2.6: Political Organizations
      Human groups have developed ways in which public decision-making, leadership, maintenance of social cohesion and order, protection of group rights, and safety from external threats are handled. Anthropologists identify these as political systems or political organizations. Anthropologists have learned about the myriad ways that people acquire power, or the ability to get others to do what one wants, and authority, or socially acceptable ways in which to wield power.
    • 2.7: Illness, Healing, Death and Dying
      Medical anthropology is the research area within cultural anthropology that marries concepts from biological and cultural anthropology to better understand health and disease among humans. It is one of the fastest growing research areas within anthropology. Some would classify it as part of applied anthropology, the fifth (often overlooked) anthropological sub-discipline.
    • 2.8: Expressive Culture
      This section introduce students to the anthropological approach to the study of religion.

    This page titled 2: Social Institutions is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Tori Saneda & Michelle Field via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.