Last updated
The Baptism of Kievans , a fresco by Viktor Vasnetsov. Kiev vasnetcov.jpg
The Baptism of Kievans , a fresco by Viktor Vasnetsov.

Unilineality is a system of determining descent groups in which one belongs to one's father's or mother's line, whereby one's descent is traced either exclusively through male ancestors (patriline), or exclusively through female ancestors (matriline). Both patrilineality and matrilineality are types of unilineal descent. The main types of the unilineal descent groups are lineages and clans.

Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is recorded through his or her father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, rights, names or titles by persons related through male kin.

Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's lineage – and which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles. A matriline is a line of descent from a female ancestor to a descendant in which the individuals in all intervening generations are mothers – in other words, a "mother line". In a matrilineal descent system, an individual is considered to belong to the same descent group as their mother. This matrilineal descent pattern is in contrast to the more common pattern of patrilineal descent from which a family name is usually derived. The matriline of historical nobility was also called their enatic or uterine ancestry, corresponding to the patrilineal or "agnatic" ancestry.

A lineage is a unilineal descent group that can demonstrate their common descent from a known apical ancestor. Unilineal lineages can be matrilineal or patrilineal, depending on whether they are traced through mothers or fathers, respectively. Whether matrilineal or patrilineal descent is considered most significant differs from culture to culture.


A lineage is a unilineal descent group that can demonstrate their common descent from a known apical ancestor.

In biology and genealogy, the most recent common ancestor of any set of organisms is the most recent individual from which all the organisms are directly descended. The term is also used in reference to the ancestry of groups of genes (haplotypes) rather than organisms.

Unilineal descent organization and deep Christianization

Recent research [1] on the unilineal descent organization has studied variables that are usually regarded as the main causes of the decline of unilineal descent organization – viz. statehood, class stratification and commercialization – along with one not previously considered: deep Christianization[ further explanation needed ]. The research demonstrated that the traditionally accepted causes of the decline are less significant than deep Christianization, while the presence of unilineal descent groups correlates negatively with communal democracy and is especially strong for complex traditional societies. Its conclusion is that as the communal democracy correlates positively with the supracommunal one[ clarify ], Christianization might have contributed to the development of modern democracy by helping to replace unilineal descent organization in Europe.

Negative relationship

In statistics, there is a negative relationship or inverse relationship between two variables if higher values of one variable tend to be associated with lower values of the other. A negative relationship between two variables usually implies that the correlation between them is negative, or — what is in some contexts equivalent — that the slope in a corresponding graph is negative. A negative correlation between variables is also called anticorrelation or inverse correlation.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.


  1. "Unilineal Descent Groups and Deep Christianization: A Cross-Cultural Comparison", Cross-Cultural Research: the Journal of Comparative Social Science 37/1 (2003), p. 132–156.

See also

Related Research Articles

Kinship human relationship term; web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of most humans in most societies; form of social connection

In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox states that "the study of kinship is the study of what man does with these basic facts of life – mating, gestation, parenthood, socialization, siblingship etc." Human society is unique, he argues, in that we are "working with the same raw material as exists in the animal world, but [we] can conceptualize and categorize it to serve social ends." These social ends include the socialization of children and the formation of basic economic, political and religious groups.

An ancestor is a parent or (recursively) the parent of an antecedent. Ancestor is "any person from whom one is descended. In law the person from whom an estate has been inherited."

Iroquois kinship is a kinship system named after the Haudenosaunee people that were previously known as Iroquois and whose kinship system was the first one described to use this particular type of system. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Iroquois system is one of the six major kinship systems.

Ambilineality is a cognatic descent system in which individuals may be affiliated either to their father's or mother's group. This type of descent results in descent groups which are non-unilineal in the sense that descent passes either through women or men, contrary to unilineal systems, whether patrilineal or matrilineal. Affiliation to a descent group will be determined either by choice or by residence. In the latter case, children will belong to the descent group with whom their parents are living.

Islam in Turkmenistan

According to a 2009 Pew Research Center report, 93.1% of Turkmenistan's population is Muslim. Traditionally, the Turkmen of Turkmenistan, like their kin in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, are Sunni Muslims. Shia Muslims, the other main branch of Islam, are not numerous in Turkmenistan, and the Shia religious practices of the Azerbaijani and Kurdish minorities are not politicized. The great majority of Turkmen readily identify themselves as Muslims and acknowledge Islam as an integral part of their cultural heritage, but some support a revival of the religion's status primarily as an element of national revival.

Index of sociology articles Wikimedia list article

This is an index of sociology articles. For a shorter list, see List of basic sociology topics.

Chinese folk religion traditional Han Chinese religious belief systems

Chinese folk religion or Han folk religion is the religious tradition of the Han Chinese, including veneration of forces of nature and ancestors, exorcism of harmful forces, and a belief in the rational order of nature which can be influenced by human beings and their rulers as well as spirits and gods. Worship is devoted to a multiplicity of gods and immortals, who can be deities of phenomena, of human behaviour, or progenitors of lineages. Stories regarding some of these gods are collected into the body of Chinese mythology. By the 11th century, these practices had been blended with Buddhist ideas of karma and rebirth, and Taoist teachings about hierarchies of gods, to form the popular religious system which has lasted in many ways until the present day.

A segmentary lineage society has equivalent parts ("segments") held together by shared values. A segmentary lineage society is a type of tribal society.

In discussing consanguineal kinship in anthropology, a parallel cousin or ortho-cousin is a cousin from a parent's same-sex sibling, while a cross-cousin is from a parent's opposite-sex sibling. Thus, a parallel cousin is the child of the father's brother or of the mother's sister, while a cross-cousin is the child of the mother's brother or of the father's sister. Where there are unilineal descent groups in a society, one's parallel cousins on one or both sides will belong to one's own descent group, while cross-cousins will not.

Andrey Korotayev Russian anthropologist, economic historian, comparative political scientist, and sociologist

Andrey Vitalievich Korotayev is a Russian anthropologist, economic historian, comparative political scientist, demographer and sociologist, with major contributions to world-systems theory, cross-cultural studies, Near Eastern history, Big History, and mathematical modelling of social and economic macrodynamics.

The Augustan Society, Inc., headquartered in Orlando, Florida, was founded in 1957 (1) to preserve material related to heraldry, genealogy, nobility, and orders of chivalry, and (2) to further chivalric ideals in society. The Society moved to its current location from its long-time home in California in 2007. The Society's journal, The Augustan Omnibus, is published semi-annually.


Tongkonan is the traditional ancestral house, or rumah adat of the Torajan people, in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Tongkonan have a distinguishing boat-shaped and oversized saddleback roof. Like most of Indonesia’s Austronesian-based traditional architecture tongkonan are built on piles. The construction of tongkonan is laborious work and it is usually built with the help of all family members or friends. In the original Toraja society, only nobles had the right to build tongkonan. Commoners live in smaller and less decorated homes called banua.

The Papuans are one of four major cultural groups of Papua New Guinea. The majority of the population lives in rural areas. In isolated areas there still remains a handful of the giant communal structures that previously housed the whole male population, with a circling cluster of huts for the women. The Papuan people are Melanesian people composed of at least 240 different peoples, each with its own language and culture. Sago is the staple food of the Papuan supplemented with hunting, fishing and small gardens.

Mongo people A Central African ethnic group of equatorial forest

The Mongo people are a Bantu ethnic group who live in the equatorial forest of Central Africa. They are the second largest ethnic group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, highly influential in its north region. A diverse collection of sub-ethnic groups, they are mostly residents of a region north of the Kasai and the Sankuru Rivers, south of the main Congo River bend. Their highest presence is in the province of Équateur and the northern parts of the Bandundu Province.

The official religion in Bhutan is Vajrayana Buddhism. Bhutan is a Buddhist country by constitution and Buddhism play a vital role in the country. Buddhism is the cultural heritage of Bhutan and its people's identity as well. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the King. Approximately 75 percent of the population of 770,000 follow either the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school, the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism or another school of Buddhism. The remaining 25 percent, mainly Lhotshampas, practice Hinduism.

Religion in Ghana religion in Ghana

Christianity is the largest religion in Ghana, with approximately 71.2% of Ghana's population being member of various Christian denominations as of 2010 census. The religious composition of Ghana in the first postindependence population census of 1960 was 25 percent Muslim, 23 percent traditionalist, 41 percent Christian, and the rest other. A breakdown of the 1960 population according to Christian sects showed that 25 percent were Protestant (non-Pentecostal); 13 percent, Roman Catholic; 2 percent, Protestant (Pentecostal); and 1 percent, Independent African Churches. The 1970 population census did not present figures on the religious composition of the nation.

Ancestor veneration in China Traditional veneration of ancestors in Chinese culture

Chinese ancestor worship, or Chinese ancestor veneration, also called the Chinese patriarchal religion, is an aspect of the Chinese traditional religion which revolves around the ritual celebration of the deified ancestors and tutelary deities of people with the same surname organised into lineage societies in ancestral shrines. Ancestors, their ghosts, or spirits, and gods are considered part of "this world", that is, they are neither supernatural nor transcendent in the sense of being beyond nature. The ancestors are humans who have become godly beings, beings who keep their individual identities. For this reason, Chinese religion is founded on veneration of ancestors. Ancestors are believed to be a means of connection to the supreme power of Tian as they are considered embodiments or reproducers of the creative order of Heaven.

Melvin Ember American anthropologist and sociologist

Melvin Lawrence Ember was an American cultural anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher with wide-ranging interests who combined an active research career with writing for nonprofessionals.

Detailed anthropological and sociological studies have been made about customs of patrilineal inheritance, where only male children can inherit. Some cultures also employ matrilineal succession, where property can only pass along the female line, most commonly going to the sister's sons of the decedent; but also, in some societies, from the mother to her daughters. Some ancient societies and most modern states employ egalitarian inheritance, without discrimination based on gender and/or birth order.