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Durkheim's Theory of Primitive Kinship

Adam Kuper
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 36, No. 2 (Jun., 1985), pp. 224-237
DOI: 10.2307/590802
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/590802
Page Count: 14
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Durkheim's Theory of Primitive Kinship
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Abstract

Durkheim was preoccupied with problems of 'primitive kinship' throughout his career. He followed contemporary anthropological writings, and tried to order ethnological materials in terms of a Spencerian model of segmentary societies. In 1895 he was inspired by the work of the Scottish school on 'totemism', and he began to develop a theory which could account at once for the history of the family and the history of religion. His ultimate goal was to establish a scientific morality, which, unlike traditional moralities, would not need to appeal to religion or to the values of the family, and consequently he tried to establish the artificiality and plasticity of kinship.

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