Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964517 | Print ISBN: 9781412909167 | Online ISBN: 9781412964517| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The term matrilineal systems refers to groups that trace their ancestral descent through maternal lines instead of paternal lines and in which familial authority is wielded by women. Matrilineal societies are closely linked to what anthropologists such as Stein Holden, Randi Kaarhus, and Rodney Lunduka identify as kinship systems. Every society incorporates some basic components in its kinship system: family, marriage, postmarital residence, rules that prohibit sexual relations (and therefore marriage) between certain categories of kin, descent, and the terms used to label kin. Individuals are said to form a lineage when they trace descent from a common ancestor. Matrilineage or matriliny refers to a system whereby individuals are related as kin through the female line of descent. Matrilineage is sometimes associated with the primitive concepts of group marriage, or polyandry. Anthropologists have provided different perspectives and interpretations about kinship and its role in society. Based on the findings of ...