Family, Marriage, and Kinship

The difference between a living and a dead social system—of whatever size, be it the largest or the smallest—is the presence, or the disappearance (due to death or migration), of its members.

A social system lives through its membership. Individuals who belong to it may die or withdraw; their replacement is a must if a system is to survive. Since a social system is a plurality of interacting individuals, the first functional prerequisite, as we noted in Chapter 8, is the presence of individuals-in-interaction. Since individuals have a limited life span compared to a social system—particularly a society or a community—the system must ensure their replacement when they die or move out.

Every social system ...

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