The Descent of Rights and the Descent of Persons

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Abstract

Explication and evaluation of the relative ethnographic and theoretical merits of several constructions of “descent” and “descent groups” (by W. H. R. Rivers, M. Fortes, and W. Goodenough, among others) reveals that relations of descent can have right and duty values only where patri- or matrifiliation is the necessary and sufficient condition for inclusion in a social group. Therefore, only unilineally constituted groups should be described as descent groups.

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