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Kinship and power in 21st Century


Kinship functions in a social structure where each and every human involves in different kinds of relationships like family blood relation (consanguineal kin), adoption and marriages (affinal kin). Authority of powers plays a very significant role in kinship both in family as well as marriage.

Family and marriage are the two very strong patriarchal relation found in India where one head kinsman controls the whole family and the minor member (wife, daughter and son) of the families supposedly follows it.

As evident in marriage, family headman always tries to control the sexuality in the family by taking each and every decision by themselves; like mostly families marry their daughters and sons under endogamy system so that their traditional rules and regulation could be saved but there are very rare caese where families allow exogamy marriages as well forming a new culture. Thus, individual roles and status in society are customized through influences of kinship.

As Foucault talks about power knowledge relationship that controls and govern the society in postmodern ages.

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He recognizes that power is not only work in negative or repressive things that make us do against our will but it can also be essential, productive or in a progressive force in society such like that in kinship power which controls family it could be optimistic.

Kinship which functions in private sphere and defines the role models of men and women for example women who engaged in household activities are meant only for private sphere (restricted) where as men are always been in public sphere (freedom).

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But now because of modernity the knowledge of power is produced in that way mentality of the people changed and women have more opportunities now they are no longer in private but also in public sphere but here she is doubly exploited because of the burden of house that still carry, that’s create certain limitation on her. As if I look Kant theory about public and private sphere in which freedom has its own sets of limits but in public people can question and can raise their problems but in private, they just have to obey without questioning (such like that women can question in public but in private freedom of women in kinship has its own limits).

Concept of power and knowledge:

Michel Foucault was French philosopher who has worked on two majors: archaeology of knowledge and genealogy of power.

Foucault challenges the through that controls is used by individual or bunches by way of episodic or sovereign acts of mastery or impelling, seeing it instep as scattered and unavoidable. Power is everywhere and comes from everywhere so in this sense is neither an agency nor a structure (Foucault 1998: 63).

Instep it could be a kind of metapower or regime of truth that invades society and which is in consistent flux and arrangement. Foucault employments the term power and knowledge to imply that control is constituted through acknowledged shapes of information, logical understanding and truth:

Each society is governed by some general politics of truth, which it accepts and follow concretely. Truth can only be produced by certain values that possesses power among people in the society.

Somehow, the general politics of truth or regimes of truth are framed by continuous educational system, media and ideologies of political and economical debates. These are the sources that differentiates, directly or indirectly, between truth and false, acceptation and declination.

This differentiation between truth and false is always anticipated and is most influenced by the source of regimes only. It is not something that is discovered and accepted easily, the most important thing is the rules according to which the truth and false are separated and are consolidated because of the functional roles, it plays and hence constraints the possibility of action and their boundaries.

Foucault is one of the few scholars on control who perceive that control isn’t fair a negative, coercive or oppressive thing that strengths us to do things against our wishes, but can moreover be a vital, profitable and positive constrain in society.

Power is additionally a major source of social teach and congruity. In moving consideration absent from the sovereign and episodic work out of control, customarily centred in medieval states to coerce their subjects, Foucault pointed to a modern kind of disciplinary power that can be watched within the regulatory frameworks and social administrations that were made in 18th century Europe, such as jails, schools and mental healing centres. Their frameworks of reconnaissance and appraisal not required constrain or savagery, as individuals learned to teach themselves and carry on in anticipated ways.

A key point almost Foucault’s approach to control is that it rises above legislative issues and sees control as a regular, mingled and encapsulated wonder. Typically, why state-centric control battles, counting revolutions, don’t continuously lead to alter within the social arrange. For a few, Foucault’s concept of control is so tricky and expelled from office or structure that there appears to be small scope for down to earth activity. But he has been gigantically compelling in indicating to the ways that standards can be so implanted as to be past our discernment causing us to teach ourselves without any wilful impelling from others.

Social situation (power and modernisation):

Modernity has arrived because of advancement, globalisation and opportunities, as a result of this structure of kinship is changing as earlier only parents supposed to take decision but now onwards freedom of discussing problems and showing opposition to parents decision not only this, in marriages women is not inferior to man but as companion to their husbands.

As modernisation has arrived but the old mythology of Hindu culture and their values is still creating a problem to accept new changes. As mentioned in book of seeing like a feminist by Nivedita Menon about the institution that mange’s this policing of sexualities is the patriarchal heterosexual family. (Menon 2012). A family can as it were be a patriarchal, heterosexual family: a man, his spouse, his children. Thus, in that case patriarchal family is based on unequal distribution.

Patriarchal is still that much stressed in our society that love marriages and valentine days are considered dangerous for their family reputation as we can see one example of Haryana Khap panchayats were honour killing is continued to save family reputation. There are other factors of honour killing importantly caste in which love is hanged and patriarchal society wins. Other example can be seen in up were chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath movement of anti-Romeo squad to stop couples to hang around without their permission of families and this would consider crime.

The real remedy for breaking caste is inter-caste marriages. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of caste (Ambedkar 1936 :67). Caste plays an important role in kinship according to this Hindu marriage mostly done in endogamy practices. So, that the hierarchy system would be maintained. As if we look in perspective of Foucault than it alludes to as normalization: these collected procedures constitute principle ways that disciplines control their claim objects. People started to be judged concurring to such standards, and standards got to be valuable inside connections of control since they in turn constructed areas of information, in which “knowing things” was based on “knowing norms.

Kinship works on four principle according to robin fox (1967) says that:

  • 1.women have children
  • impregnates the women
  • 3.the men as a rule work out control
  • 4.essential kins don’t mate with each other


The consider of family relationship is the ponder of what he (man) does and why he does it, and the results of the appropriation of one elective instead of another. Fox advance says: The consider of connection is the ponder of what man does with these essential truths of life such as mating, development, parenthood, socialization, kin dispatch, etc. Foucault say that is only power is a conception of in general impacts of these sorts of connections that exist at all levels of society and inside talks.

As dimension of modernity has bring changed in the ideology of people when it comes about a new sexual identity emerged (LGBT). The contradiction was that section 377 is now abolished but earlier according to this section sexual acts against the order of nature is considered crime, it simply implies that how patriarchal notion of heterosexuality’s management is forced by a law to continued them legally. But now after the abolishment of this law, it gave freedom to LGBT but due to patriarchal rules which are still exist in our families it will be hard full for them to live their way as they want for example in movie like “ek ladki ko dekha to aisa lga” how Sonam Kapoor fights for her sex interest.

But because of our Indian society is still supports patriarchy, this new identity LGBT will face challenges from families and society because of heterosexuality marriage is considered good in society not the same sex marriages or other marriages. Control is continuously intentional-power relations don’t exist that are evidently worked out without “points and targets.” As Foucault say in the nature of power in the history of sexuality volume 1 that control is hence vital, but does not include a prevailing or knowing subjectivity. The way that control relations show themselves inside a society, culture, or talk is completely purposefulness, but without a particular person or autonomous source whose targets and points might have decided the organize of power’s methodologies.

Research question:

How kinship played an important role in our Indian society? does its power is impacting on gender and what are their roles models inside?


I choose this topic is important because kinship politics how works in our society and those who go against this old-fashioned ideology which was framed earlier, are facing many barrier and challenges.

So, I will do research through interviewing peoples and survey, and also through secondary data by collecting most of resource through books, magazines and through videos.


Kinship system in India still stressed patriarchy in that result new ideologies is facing many barriers but they are finding a way out from this old typical notion of lifestyle like as I already mentioned about of endogamy marriages, LGBT and women conditions. Thus, gradual changing is coming up with modernisation is bringing changes in ideologies of peoples and between power playing an important role in it.


Nivedita Menon, seeing like a feminist 2012 (pg. .5-11,93-95)

Cite this page

Kinship and power in 21st Century. (2019, Nov 29). Retrieved from

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