Who introduced the term cross cousin? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

Cross Cousin

Question: Who introduced the term cross cousin?

  1. Morgan
  2. Tylor
  3. Radcliffe-Brown
  4. Levi Strauss

Answer: (2)

Exploring the Concept of Cross-Cousin and its Introduction by Edward Tylor:

The question probes into the origin of the term “cross cousin” in the context of kinship theory, offering options related to prominent figures in anthropology. The correct answer attributes the introduction of the term to Edward Tylor. To comprehensively understand the concept of cross-cousin and its significance in kinship studies, this response will delve into the definition, usage, and contributions of the term, exploring its connection with Claude Lévi-Strauss and the examination of elementary structures of kinship.

Cross-Cousin in Kinship Theory:

The term “cross cousin” is a specific categorization within the realm of kinship studies, referring to first cousins whose related parents are of the opposite sex. In simpler terms, if the mother of one individual is the sister of the father of another individual, they are considered cross-cousins. This classification is crucial in kinship analysis as it pertains to the intricacies of familial relationships and marriage alliances.

Introduction by Edward Tylor:

Edward Tylor, a pioneering figure in anthropology, is credited with introducing the term “cross cousin.” Tylor, born in 1832, was an English anthropologist who made significant contributions to the field during the 19th and early 20th centuries. His work laid the groundwork for the development of anthropological theory, and his exploration of kinship systems played a pivotal role in shaping the discipline.

While Tylor introduced the term, its broader exploration and theoretical significance were later expanded upon by Claude Lévi-Strauss, a prominent French anthropologist known for his structuralist approach to the study of cultures and societies.

Significance in Kinship Studies:

The classification of cousins as either cross-cousins or parallel cousins is crucial in understanding kinship structures and marriage rules in different societies. The distinction between these categories often influences social norms, familial relationships, and the dynamics of marriage alliances. Societies vary in their attitudes toward marriages between cross-cousins, with some forbidding or discouraging such unions while others may prefer or encourage them.

Understanding cross-cousin relationships is part of a broader exploration of kinship terminologies, marriage patterns, and descent systems within different cultures. The study of kinship provides insights into how societies organize and define familial ties, inheritance, and social roles.

Claude Lévi-Strauss and the ‘Elementary Structures of Kinship’:

Claude Lévi-Strauss, a key figure in structural anthropology, extensively utilized the concept of cross-cousin in his seminal work titled ‘The Elementary Structures of Kinship’ (1949). In this work, Lévi-Strauss aimed to decipher the fundamental rules governing preferences and prohibitions related to marriage, particularly focusing on the distinctions between cross-cousins and parallel cousins.

Lévi-Strauss argued that the rules governing marriage were not arbitrary but were part of a deeper, underlying structure that could be analyzed and understood. He explored the binary oppositions in kinship systems, such as the preference or avoidance of marriage between cross-cousins and parallel cousins. These oppositions, according to Lévi-Strauss, revealed the elementary structures that shaped kinship systems across diverse societies.

The examination of cross-cousin relationships allowed Lévi-Strauss to uncover universal principles underlying kinship, challenging the idea that cultural practices were entirely arbitrary. He argued that certain structural features were common to human societies and could be analyzed through a structuralist lens.

Comparative Analysis and Cultural Variations:

The concept of cross-cousin invites scholars to engage in comparative analysis across different societies, exploring variations in kinship systems and marriage practices. The rules governing cross-cousin marriages may be influenced by cultural, religious, and historical factors, providing rich material for anthropologists to study.

In some societies, cross-cousin marriages may be preferred as a means of strengthening social bonds, consolidating alliances between families, or preserving specific inheritance patterns. In contrast, other societies may discourage such marriages due to cultural taboos or considerations related to familial exogamy.


The introduction of the term “cross cousin” by Edward Tylor and its subsequent elaboration by Claude Lévi-Strauss highlight the dynamic nature of anthropological inquiry into kinship systems. This concept serves as a lens through which scholars examine familial relationships, marriage patterns, and the underlying structures that shape social organizations.

The study of cross-cousin relationships goes beyond mere classification; it opens avenues for understanding the intricate tapestry of cultural practices, norms, and beliefs that influence human societies. The work of Tylor and Lévi-Strauss exemplifies the significance of kinship studies in anthropology, providing valuable insights into the complexities of human social organization across diverse cultural landscapes.


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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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