Anthropologists have probably studied kinship more than any other topic. This is because in the societies where anthropologists have traditionally worked, understanding kinship is essential for understanding political organization, mortuary practices, religious ritual and other aspects of social life. Kinship, however, is also important for understanding contemporary American society, including child rearing practices, residential patterns, household economy, dining customs, etc. This discussion focuses on both consanguineous (blood) ties and marriage relationships and seeks to establish which of the two is stronger (Jackie, S, A. 13-14).
Kinship is a general term that refers to any relationship in which the people share a similar genealogical origin. Anthropologists divide kinship into two major categories. The first category is of people related by marriage, and the second one is of those related by blood. The relationship of those related by blood is commonly referred to as consanguinity. Consanguinity plays an important roles especially in the legal aspect of determining who can marry who or otherwise. In America and even beyond cousins are not allowed to intermarry as this is considered as incest. The level of degrees of consanguinity differs from culture to culture so that in some cultures it is alright for cousins to intermarry. Every culture has set levels, and this is referred to prohibited degrees of consanguinity in anthropology (Jackie, S, A. 29).
In America adopted children are also considered to be related by blood and the general rule of intermarriage also applies to them. Incase one violates the general rule and marries within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity the offspring of such a relationship are at a high risk of suffering from genetic orders. Marriage ties on the other hand are relationships established when people enter in a marriage. Strong bonds and ties are created as a result of marriage between the two families involved. However the bonds created may not be said to be as strong as those of people related by blood. This is a subject of debate quite a large number would agree with me that blood ties are stronger than marriage ties (Jackie, S, A. 40-42). However an equally large number would disagree and speak in favor of marriage ties being strong in comparison with blood ties. This being a personal essay and written from a personal point of view and experience as opposed to a research point of view my opinion is that blood relationships are stronger than marriage ties.
A famous saying states that “blood is thicker than water”. This basically means that those we are related to by blood will always remain close to us despite the various feuds and disagreements that we may have. A person with who we are related by blood may make us a mistake but we are more likely to pardon them and let go than we would people who were formerly strangers and only became relatives after marrying or getting marries to one of our own.
Although there have been some exceptional cases where people denounce others with whom they are related by blood, this argument stills stands. Yet another reason why marriage relationship may not be as strong as blood relationships is due to the fact that people in a marriage relationship may ‘walk out’ of the marriage and the ties broken. However people related by blood can not possibly walk out. They may not like the family they were born in or their blood relatives but there is not much they can do about it. They may walk out physically but they cannot detach themselves completely from their families. Perhaps it is this lack of choice that makes people related by blood tolerate one another and in turn these bonds become strong. However, looking at a marriage relationship when people ‘walk out’ through divorce in most cases the marriage ties end there (Jackie, S, A. 64-66).
Many theories and arguments have been developed to support or counter argue this statement. An argument was advanced that children in a marriage are meant to cement the relationship. This means that a marriage without children can be very shaky. This goes along way to show that marriage ties are not as strong as blood relationships. In blood relationship not much effort is made to strengthen the bond as it is in marriage ties.
It has also been argued that blood relationships are stronger as they are natural. By this we mean that they are natural as opposed to being a creation of man. Most natural aspects that we know of are permanent. With this perception in kind then it is almost obvious that blood relationships are permanent thus stronger than marriage ties which are seen as creation of individuals depending on their tastes and preferences (Jackie, S, A. 72).
In conclusion I am of the opinion that blood relationships are stronger than marriage ties.
Jackie, Smith, A. Kinship: It’s all Relative. Michigan: Genealogical Pub. Co.1991.