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Lévi-Strauss: Exchange of Women (Theory and Critiques)

Abstract : The concept of the exchange of women is a pivot of the French structuralist approach to the anthropology of kinship. A consequence of the incest prohibition, it denotes the idea that marriage, in particular through the circulation of women, is the elementary means by which social groups are bound to each other in order to constitute lasting societies. Lévi-Strauss suggested the existence of two general forms of exchange of women: prescriptive marriages within “elementary structures” of kinship and free marriages within “complex structures” of kinship. The former is itself subdivided into two types: restricted exchange and generalized exchange. The exchange-of-women concept and alliance theory have been heavily criticized for at least three reasons: the lack of ethnographic material to support the thesis; an overemphasis on purely logical categories rather than empirical facts; and the androcentric approach that reduces women to being objects of exchange.
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Contributor : Laurent Dousset Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, October 24, 2019 - 5:09:59 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 1:45:02 PM




Laurent Dousset. Lévi-Strauss: Exchange of Women (Theory and Critiques). The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 2018, ⟨10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea1604⟩. ⟨hal-02332337⟩



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