Kinship is a term with various meanings depending upon the context. This article reflects the long-standing use of the term in anthropology, which is usually considered to refer to the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of most humans in most societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated (see below).

In other disciplines, kinship may have a different meaning. In biology, it typically refers to the degree of genetic relatedness or coefficient of relationship between individual members of a species. It may also be used in this specific sense when applied to human relationships, in which case its meaning is closer to consanguinity or genealogy.

In a more general sense, kinship may refer to a similarity or affinity between entities on the basis of some or all of their characteristics that are under focus. This may be due to a shared ontological origin, a shared historical or cultural connection, or some other perceived shared features that connect the two entities. For example, a person studying the ontological roots of human languages (etymology) might ask whether there is kinship between the English word seven and the German word sieben. It can be used in a more diffuse sense as in, for example, the news headline "Madonna feels kinship with vilified Wallis Simpson", to imply a felt similarity or empathy between two or more entities.

This article is focused on the anthropological sense of the word kinship, its referents and how these have been studied, theorized about and understood within the discipline. Within anthropology, kinship can refer both to the study of the patterns of social relationships in one or more human cultures, or it can refer to the patterns of social relationships themselves. Further, even within these two broad usages of the term, there are different approaches, which are covered below. Over its history, anthropology has developed a number of related concepts and terms, such as descent, descent groups, lineages, affines, cognates and even fictive kinship and these are treated in their own subsections here, or in linked articles.

Broadly, kinship patterns may be considered to include people related both by descent (one's social relations during development), and also relatives by marriage. Human kinship relations through marriage are commonly called "affinity" in contrast to the relationships that arise in one's group of origin, which may be called one's "descent group". In some cultures, kinship relationships may be considered to extend out to people an individual has economic relationships with, or other forms of social connections. Within a culture, the descent groups may be considered to lead back to gods (see mythology, religion), or animal ancestors totems. This may be conceived of on a more or less literal basis.

Kinship can also refer to a perceived universal principle or category of humans, by which we or our societies organize individuals or groups of individuals into social groups, roles, categories, and genealogy. Family relations can be represented concretely (mother, brother, grandfather) or abstractly after degrees of relationship. A relationship may have relative purchase (e.g., father is one regarding a child), or reflect an absolute (e.g., status difference between a mother and a childless woman). Degrees of relationship are not identical to heirship or legal succession. Many codes of ethics consider the bond of kinship as creating obligations between the related persons stronger than those between strangers, as in Confucian filial piety.

Read more about Kinship:  History of Kinship Studies

Other articles related to "kinship":

Strategic Reasons For Milk Kinship
... brings about a social relationship that is an alternative to kinship bonds based on blood." People of different races and religions could be brought together strategically through the bonding of the milk mother and ... Lower Class in Society Milk kinship was as relevant for peasants as ‘fostering’ or as ‘hosting’ other children, in that it secured the good will from their masters and their ... of society would end up co-parenting through the link of milk-kinship ...
List Of Magic: The Gathering Keywords - Ability Words - Kinship
... Kinship is an ability word that appears in Morningtide ... All cards with kinship are creatures that check, at the beginning of their controller's upkeep, whether the card on top of that player's library shares a creature type with the creature that has the kinship ...
Scotland In The Early Modern Era - Society - Kinship and Clans
... Unlike in England, where kinship was predominately cognatic (derived through both males and females), in Scotland kinship was agnatic, with members of a ... between kin groups, rather than a new bond of kinship ... A shared surname has been seen as a "test of kinship", proving large bodies of kin who could call on each other’s support ...
Kinship - Descent - Legal Ramifications
... Kinship and descent have a number of legal ramifications, which vary widely between legal and social structures ... More importantly, kinship and descent enters the legal system by virtue of intestacy, the laws that at common law determine who inherits the estates of the dead in the absence of a will ... Rules of kinship and descent have important public aspects, especially under monarchies, where they determine the order of succession, the heir apparent and the heir ...
Systems Theory In Anthropology - Closed Systems
... For instance, kinship system, marriage system, cultural system, religious system, totemic system, etc ... In their quest of searching the underline pattern of a reality, they "discovered" the kinship system as a fundamental structure of the natives ... they reduce the complexity and fluidity by imposing anthropological concepts such as genealogy, kinship, heredity, marriage ...

Famous quotes containing the word kinship:

    The little lives of earth and form,
    Of finding food, and keeping warm,
    Are not like ours, and yet
    A kinship lingers nonetheless....
    Philip Larkin (1922–1986)

    The spiritual kinship between Lincoln and Whitman was founded upon their Americanism, their essential Westernism. Whitman had grown up without much formal education; Lincoln had scarcely any education. One had become the notable poet of the day; one the orator of the Gettsyburg Address. It was inevitable that Whitman as a poet should turn with a feeling of kinship to Lincoln, and even without any association or contact feel that Lincoln was his.
    Edgar Lee Masters (1869–1950)