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A descent group is a social group whose members talk about common ancestry.

A unilineal society is one in which the descent of an individual is reckoned either from the mother's or the father's line of descent.

There are four main headings that anthropologists use to categorize rules of descent.

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Different societies classify kinship relations differently and therefore use different systems of kinship terminology – for example some languages distinguish between affinal and consanguine uncles, whereas others have only one word to refer to both a father and his brothers.

Kinship terminologies include the terms of address used in different languages or communities for different relatives and the terms of reference used to identify the relationship of these relatives to ego or to each other.

Broadly, kinship patterns may be considered to include people related by both descent – i.e.

social relations during development – and by marriage.

Kinship can also refer to a principle by which individuals or groups of individuals are organized into social groups, roles, categories and genealogy by means of kinship terminologies.

Family relations can be represented concretely (mother, brother, grandfather) or abstractly by degrees of relationship (kinship distance). a father in relation to a child) or reflect an absolute (e.g.

the difference between a mother and a childless woman).

Degrees of relationship are not identical to heirship or legal succession.

As the basic unit for raising children, Anthropologists most generally classify family organization as matrifocal (a mother and her children); conjugal (a husband, his wife, and children; also called nuclear family); avuncular (a brother, his sister, and her children); or extended family in which parents and children co-reside with other members of one parent's family.

However, producing children is not the only function of the family; in societies with a sexual division of labor, marriage, and the resulting relationship between two people, it is necessary for the formation of an economically productive household.

Within a culture, some descent groups may be considered to lead back to gods or animal ancestors (totems).

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