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Arkistoitu opetusohjelma 2016–2017
Selaat vanhentunutta opetusohjelmaa. Voimassa olevan opetusohjelman löydät täältä.
SOS06.4 Contemporary Perspectives on Family and Kinship 5 ECTS
Implementation is also a part of open university teaching
Period I Period II Period III Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Intermediate studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Yhteiskuntatutkimuksen tutkinto-ohjelma
School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Learning outcomes

After the course students are expected to identify central trends in contemporary anthropological studies of kinship, understand the ways in which kinship changes depending upon social and cultural context, and in a critical manner look at the folk assumptions on the family present in a public Euro-American discourse.

Opiskelija tuntee antropologisen sukulaisuuden tutkimuksen tradition ja ymmärtää, kuinka perheen ja sukulaisuuden muodot ovat sidoksissa kulttuurisiin ja sosiaalisiin konteksteihin. Hän ymmärtää myös, että eri ikäkaudet, kuten lapsuus, hahmottuvat toisistaan poikkeavilla tavoilla näissä konteksteissa.

General description

The course introduces students into cotemporary anthropological discussions on family and kinship. Kinship has been a central concept in anthropology from its very onset, one of the few which anthropology managed to make its own. Radical shift in kinship studies came in 1970s and 1980s. The traditional approach has been challenged as too static and algebraic. The analytical feasibility of the very category of kinship has been undermined. The aim of this course is to shed light on these new critical developments. We will look at the demise of kinship studies brought about by the argument on their essentially Western ideas of biological reproduction, and their subsequent revitalization. This will include the introduction of the Schneider’s critique and the feminist anthropologists’ works on kinship, gender and power; motherhood and fatherhood; concept of relatedness; studies on new reproductive technologies, genetics and heredity; gay and lesbian kinship; new family forms emerging as a consequence of divorces, separation, domestic and transnational adoptions and migration. We will discuss how recent theoretical and empirical works reformulated kinship, putting stress on process, flexibility, negotiation, human agency, local meanings and symbols. How they countered the notions of “naturalness” of marriage, sex, procreation and parenthood; kinship obligations and duty. We will deconstruct the notion of biology and nature and discuss them as culturally-constructed categories. Kinship will emerge as socially and culturally contingent.

Enrolment for University Studies

Priority is given to students in anthropology, sociology, psychology and social policy.

Enrolment time has expired


Anna Matyska, Teacher responsible


4-Oct-2016 – 15-Nov-2016
Seminar 12 hours
Tue 4-Oct-2016 - 15-Nov-2016 weekly at 14-16, Linna 5026
Fri 7-Oct-2016 - 11-Nov-2016 weekly at 14-16
7-Oct-2016 at 14 –16 , Linna 5014
Lectures 12 hours


Numeric 1-5.

Study materials

The course consists of reading materials, seminar discussions, lectures, and a final essay. Students are expected to read the course material and actively participate in class and group discussions.