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 +# Alliance and descent #
  
 +The contrast between alliance and descent is an idea developed by
 +Louis Dumont to characterize differences between Meyer Fortes and his
 +school of structural functionalists on the one hand and Edmund Leach
 +and his school of structuralists on the other. Fortes argued that
 +descent and descent groups were primary to most social systems based
 +on kinship and could thus explain more about how these systems
 +functioned. Leach, taking off from Levi-Strauss'​s arguments in *The
 +Elementary Structures of Kinship*, argued that matrimonial alliances
 +were more fundamental. The two sides drew for the most part on
 +different types of societies and so their explanations were not
 +mutually exclusive. Dumont pointed out that even so the divergence of
 +views turned on different understandings of social structure
 +itself. Fortes argued that descent groups served to create a political
 +and jural order of rights and obligations,​ which itself was a
 +reflection of a universal principle of kinship amity rooted in the
 +biological family. Levi-Strauss'​s account of marriage alliances
 +starts with a concept of kinship categories as a break with
 +nature. For Levi-Strauss,​ the symmetrical and complementary categories
 +of kinship derive from the fact that marriage is an exchange in which
 +people are gifts between groups. This reciprocity among segments of
 +society is what creates the social order, not the supposedly
 +precultural facts of kinship amity and descent identity.
 +
 +## Works consulted ##
 +
 +Dumont, Louis. 2006. An Introduction to Two Theories of Social
 +Anthropology:​ Descent Groups and Marriage Alliance, Robert Parkin,
 +trans. New York: Berghahn Books.
 +
 +Leaf, Murray J. 2013. “Alliance-Descent Debate.” In Theory in Social
 +and Cultural Anthropology:​ An Encyclopedia,​ Richard L. Warms and
 +R. Jon McGee, eds. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications,​
 +Inc. http://​dx.doi.org/​10.4135/​9781452276311.
 +
 +Lévi-Strauss,​ Claude. 1969. The Elementary Structures of Kinship,
 +Rodney Needham, trans. Boston: Beacon Press.
 +
 +Fortes, Meyer. 1953. “The Structure of Unilineal Descent Groups.”
 +American Anthropologist 55 (1): 17–41. doi:​10.2307/​664462.
alliance_and_descent.txt · Last modified: 2014/09/02 21:06 by ryans