Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Thu, 18 Jul 1996 10:24:42 -0400

In message <> "Dwight W.
Read" writes:

> Snower seems to assume that "family" or "band" is somehow natural and
> prior--else what is being "transcended"? But "family" is already a cultural
> construct. What we trascend is the limitation of what can be achieved in
> the absence of the richness that is introduced through the capacity to
> define a reality within which social interaction will take place.

I think it is a mistake, especially for anthropologists, to argue that "family"
is a cultural construct separate from biology. The H. sapiens "family" is of
course heavily symbolic, i.e. defined by culture and language. However, the
minimal "family", a mother and her dependent child(ren), is a social trait
shared with our fellow hominoids and almost certainly with our common ancestor,
and, therefore, in some sense prior. What we do that is different from our
fellow hominoids is to define, culturally, who else is to be included in the
category "family" and in what ways we do or do not interact with them.

To be fair, Dwight points this out in the rest of the message, but I wanted to
emphasize the total perpective. It is thinking both cross-culturally and
cross-specifically that keeps us from being sociologists.

Ron Kephart
University of North Florida