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The ethnosociology (from ancient Greek ethnos "people", and Latin socius "companion" and -logie ) examines as an ethnological subject the social coexistence of people among ethnic groups and indigenous peoples worldwide, especially their family relationships , marriage rules and social organization . The ethnosociology corresponds to the British social anthropology ( social anthropology ) and the US-American cultural anthropology- In the German-speaking area, however, European ethnology is referred to as “ cultural anthropology ” ( folklore ). The designation as ethnosociology was introduced in 1931 by the Austrian ethnologist Richard Thurnwald in order to connect ethnology and sociology more closely. Wilhelm Emil Mühlmann , Horst Reimann and Georg Elwert have emerged from the German ethnosociologists .


By the end of the 1960s, the Ethnosociology dealt almost exclusively with the analysis of relationship (kinship) , kinship systems and kinship terminologies . It was assumed that social structures , legal concepts and all forms of social organization in non- industrialized societies are primarily determined by family relationships . Thus ethnosociology came under suspicion of ethnocentrism and androcentrism . American approaches assumed that notions of kinship that would have developed in Europe with industrialization, for example the nuclear family , were uncritically opposed to non-industrial societies. In addition, too little attention was paid to the matrilineal descent (according to the maternal line) or matrilinear systems were examined with the terminology and analysis concepts of patrilinear systems (according to Roger Keesing 1975). These approaches were in turn criticized.

Since the 1970s, the focus of ethnosociological research has shifted to the individual and the economic, legal and cognitive conditions of social systems . Studies on people, on gender relations and social gender roles , on the relationship between the individual and society, on power , state organization and the organization of social processes emerged. In adjacent areas, researches developed for political or religious organization ( political anthropology , anthropology of religion ) to socio-typical ways of thinking and knowledge resources, their transmission and distribution ( Cognitive Anthropology ) or indigenous healing and treatment systems ( ethnomedicine ).

See also

List.svgfList of topics: Ethnosociology  - Overview in the portal: Ethnology
Portal: Sociology  - Overview of sociological Wikipedia content


  • Wolfgang Kraus: On the concept of descent: a selective overview. In: Anthropos. Volume 92, 1997, pp. 139-163 ( preview at JSTOR ).
  • Horst Reimann (Ed.): Sociology and Ethnology: On the interaction between two disciplines. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1986, ISBN 3-531-11853-6 .
  • Alan Barnard , Anthony Good: Research Practices in the Study of Kinship. Academic Press, London 1984, ISBN 0-12-078980-9 (English).
  • Roger Keesing: Kin Groups and Social Structure. Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York 1975, ISBN 0-03-012846-3 (English; new edition: 2005).


Web links

  • Wolfgang Kraus: Kinship Studies. ( Memento from October 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF: 834 kB, 24 S.) In: Strategies for networked learning: A learning environment for methods and basic knowledge. Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Vienna, 2008 (German; basic introduction to ethno-sociological kinship research).
  • Dieter Steiner: Social in the narrower sense. Own website, Zurich 1998 (comprehensive treatise on social organization, the author is a professor emeritus for human ecology).
  • Helmut Lukas, Vera Schindler, Johann Stockinger: Interactive online glossary: ​​marriage, marriage and family. Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Vienna, 1997 (detailed notes, with references).


  • Dennis O'Neil: Cultural Anthropology Tutorials. Behavioral Sciences Department, Palomar College, San Marcos California, 2013 (extensive study tutorials on social-anthropological and ethnosociological topics, with clear illustrations).
  • Brian Schwimmer: Tutorial: Kinship and Social Organization. Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, Canada, 2003 (extensive introductory tutorial on kinship and social organization).