Patterns of Descent and Inheritance
Even though a variety of marital patterns exist across cultures, virtually all forms of marriage establish a system of descent so that kinship can be determined and inheritance rights established. In postindustrial societies, kinship is usually traced through one parent (uni lineally). The most common pattern of uni lineal descent is patriarchate descent-a system of tracing descent through the father's side of the family. Paltriness systems are set up so that a legitimate son inherits his father's property and sometimes his position upon the father's death. In nations such as India, where boys are seen as permanent patrimonial family members but girls are seen as only temporary family members, girls tend to be considered more expendable than boys (O'Connell, 1994). Recently, some scholars have concluded that cultural and racial nationalism in China is linked to the idea of patrimonial descent being crucial to the modern Chinese national identity (Dikotter, 1996). Even with the less common pattern of matrimonial descent-a system of tracing descent through the mother's side of the family-women may not control properly. However. inheritance of property and position is usually traced from the maternal uncle (mother's brother) to his nephew (mother's son). In some cases, mothers may pass on their property to daughters. By contrast, kinship in industrial societies is usu ally traced through both parents (bilineally). The most common form is bilateral descent-a system of tracing descent through both the mother's and father's sides of the family. This pattern is used in the United States for the purpose of determining kinship and inheritance rights; however, children typically take the father's last name.