Kinship system refers to a set of persons recognized as relatives either by virtue of a blood relationship or by virtue of a marriage relationship. According to the Dictionary of Anthropology, kinship system includes society recognized relationships based on supposed as well as well actual genealogical ties. These relationships are the result of social interaction and are recognized by society.

Kinship system represents one of the basic social institutions. Kinship is universal and in most societies plays a significant role in the socialisation of individuals and the maintenance of group solidarity, It is supremely important in the primitive societies and extends its influence on almost all their activities – social, economic, political, religious, etc.

Types of Kinship:

  • Affinal Kinship: The bond of marriage is called ‘affinal’ When a person marries, he establishes relationship not only with the girl whom he marries but also with a number of other people in the girl’s family. Moreover, it is not only the person marrying who gets bound to the family members of the girl but his family members also get bound to the family members of the girl. Thus, a host of relations are created as soon as a marriage takes place.
  • Consanguineous Kinship: The bond of blood is called consanguineous kinship. The consanguineous kin are related through blood whereas the affinal kin are related through marriage. The bond between parents and their children and that between parents and their children and that between parents and their children and that between siblings is consanguineous

Regional differences regarding kinship systems and marriage in North and South India:

  • North India: In North India, there are mostly patrilineal groups, with descent traced in the male line from father to son. Members of a patri-lineage cooperate in in ritual and economic activities. Caste endogamy is strictly practiced. Further, marriage is prohibited within the same gotra or clan and village exogamy is commonly Thus, marriage prohibitions tend to bar marriage over a wide area in terms of kinship as well as space.
  • South India: The Southern zone presents a very complicated pattern of kinship system and family While there is dominance of patrilineal and patrilocal system, but simultaneously matrilineal (descent from maternal line) and matrilocal systems also exist. Rules of marriage also vary in South India.