Sociology Index


Patrilineal Descent is a system in which family descent is reckoned through the blood links of males and typically, names and property follow the male line of descent. A man's descendants are his own children, and women are little recognized as ancestors. Ancient societies are known to have recognised Patrilineal Descent and Matrilineal Descent systems. In patrilineal descent, both males & females belong to their father's kin group but not their mother's. Only males pass on their family identity to their children. A woman's children are members of her husband's patrilineal line. Patrilineal descent gives priority to inheritance of a throne or fief to heirs descended from the original title holder through males only.

Matrilineal societies differ from both patrilineal societies and bilateral societies in that the institution of marriage tends to be, relatively weak (Schneider and Gough 1961, Goode 1963). In a gerontocratic matrilineal society, women's influence and prestige tended to increase with age and were usually expressed in informal settings, although there were offices of formalised informality such as "mothers" of matrilineages.

Bilineal Descent is system of family descent where blood links and rights of inheritance through both male and female ancestors are given equal importance. In India we generally find the Patrilineal Descent and Matrilineal Descent systems.

Unilineal Descent or one-line descent is that form of descent in which a relationship is emphasised through one sex or line. Matriliny required the subordination of marriage and conjugal duties to loyalty to and participation in the descent group.

This, combined with economic activities, farming, artisan work, and trading, gave women considerable independence. Women (like elders) had prestige in the matrilineal home town, where black stools symbolised the "seat of power."

Patrilineality in patrilineal descent, also known as the male line or agnatic kinship. Patrilineal descent is a kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives through his or her father's lineage. Patrilineal descent involves the inheritance of property, rights, or titles by persons related through male kin.