Other Free Encyclopedias » Marriage and Family Encyclopedia » Family Social Issues

Incest/Inbreeding Taboos - Historical Review, Nature Versus Nurture, Incest/inbreeding Harm, Sibling Marriage And Human Isolates

family history societies society rule sanctions

The incest taboo is one of the oldest and most perplexing mysteries encountered by students of human society. Historically, western scholars believed that the incest taboo—long proposed as a cultural universal—is vital to understanding the human condition. Thus, interest in the incest taboo has an extensive history.

Although the incest taboo varies in meaning by society, it is frequently an important rule of prohibition, commonly encompassing religious sanctions, and usually forbidding sexual contact between particular categories of relatives and family members. Closely related to the incest taboo are the rules of exogamy that usually prohibit marriage between the same categories of kin forbidden by incest rules (Murdock 1949). Typically included in the taboo are nuclear (parents and children) and immediate (e.g., grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and first cousins) family members. In societies composed of unilineal descent groups (e.g., lineages, clans, and moieties), the incest rule often includes all or most of a person's descent (kinship) group. This includes distantly related individuals to which an actual genealogical connection cannot be made (Murdock 1949). A thorough understanding of the incest taboo necessarily recognizes this rule as an important part of a larger system of sexual regulations. In turn, these sexual regulations are an important component of the extensive normative structure regulating family, marriage, and kinship systems, and ultimately the larger society.

There are many cross-cultural variations in the incest taboo. Whereas it appears that most societies have some sort of incest prohibition, the rule is not strictly universal. Likewise, many societies deem the incest taboo extremely serious, whereas other groups view the taboo more casually. Sanctions for taboo violations reflect a similar cross-cultural diversity. In some societies, members simply express disapproval or distaste when incest occurs, as might be expected in the presence of bad manners. In other communities, the act of incest is considered horrifying or unthinkable, and transgressors may be put to death or expelled from the society. In many instances, the incest taboo is intricately entwined with religious tenets and proscribes supernatural sanctions against violators or against the society as a whole. In technologically advanced societies scientific explanations have commonly replaced religious beliefs, and religious sanctions have been replaced by legal penalties and concerns about genetic harm to progeny.

Spouse Abuse - PREVALENCE, THEORETICAL EXPLANATIONS [next] [back] Incest - Prevalence Of Incest, Effects On Victims, Profile Of Offenders, Treatment

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

about 2 years ago

Growing up I met kids in well to do families and ghetto not so well to do.
I met the elders of some these families and listen a few times as they explain the OK to use their children as it all formulates from the bible ...Man in cave bad society collapse to go on and to celebrate their exsistence 2 daughters and father consume wine and engage in fornication. People twist over the centurys using the bible to justify their lust.
Myself I'm a skeptic on alot of the bible, I see alot of chosen perverted twisted old jewish men with some real problems dictating how things were and how peoples should live. Some people if their curious about sexual relationship with their children are likely to take the plunge without consideration of what actions can do to dismantle natural minds.

Vote down Vote up

about 3 years ago

List of Packers and Movers that will surely solve your relocation problem

Vote down Vote up

about 3 years ago

Thanks for information The5th company top services for packing and moving services in India