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Kinship describes the relationship of blood kinship within groups organized under patriarchal law , which had historical significance in the Germanic era. The word ( Old High German sippia , Old Norse as plural word sifjar , probably etymologically identical to the name of the goddess Sif ) describes a related group of people. The conceptual meaning is relatively imprecise or differently defined.

In a general sense, clan denotes a large family with a common, possibly imaginary origin and (especially in pre-state societies) with a religious, economic and political function. It is an outdated and imprecise term for the entirety of consanguinity and affinity of a person in ascending or descending line, including collateral relatives , their marriage partner and offspring . The derived word clan colloquially or derogatory relationship in general.

The Duden defines clan as a group of people with common ancestry that is linked by certain regulations and customs (especially in the religious, legal and economic areas), often comprising a large number of families.


In the völkisch movement and in the time of National Socialism , the use of clan instead of family had an exaggerated and political function. For example, family history research ( genealogy ) turned into “ kin research ”, from the family book for a village community into the “Dorfsippenbuch” (see local family book ), and questionable origins were checked by the “ Reichsstelle für Kippenforschung ” (Reichsippenamt).


In ethnology (ethnology) the outdated term clan is closely linked to the term clan :

In the German reading, clan was previously used as a term for both Lineages (groups of descent) and Kindreds (kinship networks). Richard Thurnwald (1869–1954) classified clans that are not politically independent under the name Kinship .

The American anthropologist George P. Murdock (1897–1985) replaced the English translated word sib (from "clan") with clan , combined with a clearer demarcation: a family association with a clear line of descent. He differed Matri and - Patri , -Clans depending on the origin of a matriarch or from an ancestor . A Patri clan differs from a Matri clan in that only the male descendants of the ancestor belong to it, while a married woman remains a member of her own Matri clan, although she also belongs to her husband's Patri clan.


Web links

Wiktionary: Kinship  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Entry: Kinship. In: Duden dictionary of origin. Mannheim 2007, p. ??.
  2. a b Word entry: clan. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved August 11, 2019
  3. Word entry: clan. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved August 11, 2019
  4. Duden online : Kinship that. Retrieved August 11, 2019.