Stringfellow's question

Mon, 17 Apr 1995 07:33:48 -0700

I sent the message below to Stringfellow. Decided to post it to the list
because of the two responses I saw posted to the list from Mike Salovesh and
Harriet Whitehead. Both seemed directed more at the complicated arguments
regarding alliance vs descent than at the question originally asked. I think
Schneider's _Some Muddles in the Models_ is particularly difficult reading even
for the advanced student without guidance, although I admit that my
recommendation of Needham's book may fall in the same category.

Phil Young

From: OREGON::PYOUNG "Phil Young" 17-APR-1995 07:08:24.58
To: IN%"string@SONNET.COM"
Subj: RE: What is the Alliance Theory

Look at the biography of Claude Levi-Strauss by Edmund Leach. Also look at
Rodney Needham's little book entitled _Structure and Sentiment_.

However, the short answer is that Levi-Strauss viewed the exchange of women by
groups of men as the central element in social structure. He argues that in
small scale societies the simplest and safest way to get wives and at the same
time establish alliances with specific other groups is to specify a rule for
the exchange of women with other groups. He called systems that specify such
exchange rules elementary systems (of kinship).

Hope this helps.

Phil Young