Family and kinship terms

Based on the interviews I carried out for this workout, I now have a more comprehensive view of the term family. For this workout, I spoke with four individuals that were of Asian origin, particularly Filipino, or individuals originating from the Philippines. Based on my research and talk with my interviewed topics, the Philippines is such a small nation in the South East however these Filipinos can be found living all around the world. To an anthropologist, the term household merely refers to the biological structure made up of 2 parents and a minimum of one child.

This structural system is what has long been accepted in the Western world as the fundamental unit in society. Nevertheless, there are several modifications to Asians and more particularly, to people stemming from the Philippines. In Philippine culture, the terms family and extended household can be utilized interchangeably, since their culture is typically connected with a house that is lived in by a married couple with children, along with the grandparents and relatives-in-law.

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In the Western world, the extended family is rarely observed in one home and would only be necessary in unique scenarios such is health conditions that impact the typical performance of a family. In the Philippine custom, the term household merely implies the entire household as well as all the relatives that might potentially suit the house and live for even a prolonged period of time. It has actually been explained to me that such close-knit household ties have been adapted by Filipinos from the Chinese tourists in the early centuries (Joaquin, 1988).

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For this reason in the household, one bed room can be occupied by 2 women that are not sis however really cousins. The term kinship, on the other hand, technically implies the biological connection of an individual such as the kinship of the dad or the kinship of the mom of a household. In the Asian viewpoint, kinship can mean any private that relates to any member of the family. This not just includes those of with a biological connection, but also those people that have actually been related through marital relationship, or the in-laws.

It is thus interesting to see how different cultures perceive the terms family and kinship. What amazes me is that the Filipinos that I interviewed have such a great attachment to the idea of family, that they call other elder non-related Filipino friends “Uncle” or “Aunt”. It has been explained to me that such adaptation of these greetings are a form of respect to these elder individuals, even if they are not really biologically related.

It can thus look like one Filipino can have a thousand uncles and another thousand aunts because all of them are addressed with the same term that is used to address their biological aunt or uncle. Another interesting observation that I collected from my interview is that Filipinos tend to consider a non-biologically related individual as family if they have been in touch or in communication with that person for at least a couple of years and that they would even attempt to help these individuals out to the best of their abilities, even offering the last of their food to such friend.

These individuals have big hearts and are more than willing to help out any individual who needs support. When I asked how they would consider a group of unrelated individuals that have lived together in a particular place, they responded that they consider this group as a family, too, and not a residence group.

The members of this residence group are thus considered as brothers and sisters, depending simply on the age of each member of the group, or if one individual is elderly, then that individual will be called and considered as the group’s father or mother and that the youngest member of the group will be considered and called the group’s baby. Reference Joaquin, N. 1988. Culture and history: Occasional notes on the process of Philippine becoming. Solar Publishing, Metro Manila.

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Family and kinship terms. (2016, Nov 16). Retrieved from

Family and kinship terms

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