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Group nepotism and human kinship

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  • Ian Pitchford
    Group nepotism and human kinship Current Anthropology, December 2000, 41(5): 779-809 Doug Jones, Department of Anthropology, 102 Stewart Hall, University of
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2000
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      Group nepotism and human kinship
      Current Anthropology, December 2000, 41(5): 779-809
      Doug Jones, Department of Anthropology, 102 Stewart Hall, University
      of Utah, Salt Lake City UT 84112, USA, douglas.jones@...

      Abstract:

      The human aptitude for collective action may have implications for
      how the theory of kin selection applies to human kinship. Several
      models show that if two or more individuals act collectively in
      assisting their mutual kin, their effective coefficient of
      relatedness can be greater than if each acts individually. Thus human
      beings may have psychological adaptations not only for individual
      nepotism but also for group nepotism -- adaptations leading them to
      construct solidary groups enforcing an ethic of unidirectional
      altruism toward kin. Human kinship systems have a number of features
      that seem especially consistent with group nepotism. (1) Human kin
      groups come in many sizes, ranging from families to clans, lineages
      and tribes of thousands of people. (2) Human kinship commonly
      features an "axiom of amity," a presumption that kin are entitled to
      aid simply by virtue of being kin. But this kin altruism is often
      socially imposed, motivated less by affection between donors and
      recipients than by social pressure. (3) Relatedness as defined by
      human kinship systems generally differs systematically from
      biological relatedness and varies with social structure -- and
      especially with the solidarity of the kin group. The theory of group
      nepotism may have implications for a number of research areas in the
      social sciences. I conclude by focusing on two: demand sharing of
      food among subsistence hunters, and the psychology of ethnocentrism.

      Current Anthropology electronic edition:
      http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/CA/journal/index.html
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