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System of social organization between people who are or are held to be biologically related or who are given the status of relatives by marriage, adoption, or other ritual. Kinship is the broad term for all the relationships that people are born into or create later in life that are considered binding in the eyes of society. Every person belongs to a family of orientation (e.g., mother, father, brothers, and sisters); many adults also belong to a family of procreation (which includes a spouse or spouses and children). Familial bonds of descent and marriage may be traced through a genealogy, a written or oral statement of the names of individuals and their kin relations to one another. Inheritance and succession (the transmission of power and position in society) usually follow kinship lines. See alsoexogamy and endogamy; incest.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on kinship, visit Britannica.com.