Inheritance and Society


The social practices and beliefs surrounding kinship, procreation and inheritance are highly varied. Certainly, they do not necessarily reflect the models of biological inheritance identified by genetic science. Such beliefs are not the preserve of ‘other’ cultures. There is research evidence of complex belief systems among Western populations that are not coterminous with genetic science.

Keywords: kinship; descent; inheritance; genetics; cross‐cultural

Further Reading

Clay B (1977) Pinikundu: Maternal Nurture, Paternal Substance. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Crocker W and Crocker J (1994) The Canela: Bonding through Kinship, Ritual and Sex. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace.

Finkler K (2000) Experiencing the New Genetics: Family and Kinship on the Medical Frontier. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Finkler K (2001) The kin in the gene: the medicalization of family and kinship in American society. Current Anthropology 42(2): 235–264.

Franklin S (1997) Embodied Progress: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception. London: Routledge.

Holy L (1996) Anthropological Perspectives on Kinship. London: Pluto Press.

Loizos P and Heady P (eds.) (1999) Conceiving Persons: Ethnographies of Procreation, Fertility and Growth. London: Athlone Press.

Marteau T and Richards M (eds.) (1996) The Troubled Helix: Social and Psychological Implications of the New Human Genetics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Strathern M (1992) Reproducing the Future: Anthropology, Kinship and the New Reproductive Technologies. London: Routledge.

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Atkinson, Paul, Bharadwaj, Aditya, and Featherstone, Katie(Sep 2006) Inheritance and Society. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005659]