The San are well known hunters and gatherers in Africa. They inhabited the Kalahari Desert which is the harshest and inhospitable desert found in the southern part of Africa (Grecinger, 2012). They have a basic diet of meat, berries, nuts and melons. Women in the San community are responsible for helping in the food provision and taking care of the children thus giving them a say in the key decisions made in the community. Men are responsible for hunting.
The San society consists of family and relatives. The families, kinship and marriages play a vital role in society. The San people have a bilateral Kinship system. In this case, the kinship relations through both parents are equally important. The bilateral kinship is beneficial during times of water, shelter and food scarcity. This close kinship setting of the San people thus is vital in all daily life aspects. They share the available resources across the territory. If one band runs out of food and then it has to look for their Kin in the next territory. Men marry once they reach maturity and the community practices polygamy marriage (Grecinger, 2012). Marriage helps in strengthening the social links in the San community. However, the kinship system prohibits someone from marrying closer cousins or relatives. A man should first ensure that the woman he is intending to marry does not have a similar name as a sibling or parent. This plays a pivotal role in ensuring that there are minimal chances of incest occurring (Grecinger, 2012).
This San Kinship culture has an effect on their all aspects life including marriage rituals, their habitat during drought and how they spend their free time as well. The system gives a determination on whether a certain band will be taken care by the paternal or the maternal sides of their families. When a man chooses a bride and decides to marry her, his In-laws now are his responsibility and he is theirs too because of the share and share alike system. Family is an important unit in the San society, and social ties are equally important hence making work seems to be secondary to staying and spending leisure time together. In the San System of Kinship, everything is shared thus inhibiting the private accumulation of wealth. This kind of life promotes generalized reciprocity in every life aspect (Grecinger, 2012).
Just like the San community, the Americans have a bilateral Kinship system. However, in the United States marriage is monogamous and the kinship system is relatively narrow and more fragile. The American kinship system distinguishes between cousins and siblings both of whom have collateral relations (Nanda and Warms, 2010, p.180). The Kinship system in the United States does not affect the behavior of individuals because the system always changes with remarriage and divorce. Remarriage and divorce are supported publicly thus making the social grouping short lived. Once an individual is divorced, the Kins who were focused on her or him are significantly altered or at times cease to be existing. Unlike, the San who share everything, the Americans strife to accumulate wealth and be powerful over others thus the family ties and kinship are not an important part of their culture (Nanda and Warms, 2010, p.181). Conflicting family obligations and interests hinders the system from functioning efficiently in a mutual aid and collective ownership.
Grecinger, M. (2012). San People: An Overview of Kinship and Culture Systems. Hubpages. Retrieved from http://bryteyedgemini.hubpages.com/hub/SANculture
Nanda, S., Warms, R. (2010). Cultural Anthropology. Cengage Learning