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Lineage and Society: A Comparison of Korea and China
Kim Song-Chul

Vol.1, No.1, Pp.1 – 19, 2017


Abstract
(In lieu of an abstract) Anthropological research on social structure in East Asia entered a new era with the publication of Maurice Freedman's monumental books, in 1958 and 1966, about Chinese lineages. Freedman examined in the context of Chinese society the classical model of the lineage as a unilineal descent group as established by British social anthropologists in the 1940s and 1950s based on data from African societies. While comparing African tribal and Chinese societies, Freedman inevitably found himself rejecting the argument that the lineage model as asserted by British social anthropologists was incompatible with centralized state systems. He denied, in other words, the position that lineages could not exist in a centralized society as argued on the basis of the logic that the most important social function of lineages in African tribal societies was political, and that African political orders were maintained by the lineages. Instead, Freedman attempted to explain how lineages had continued to exist within the centralized social systems of China.
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