Growing up in Europe: A century of theoretical self-deception

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


Western anthropologists invented the concept of kinship to describe the “other” which seemed to be integrated by kin ties. While Euro-pean (broadly speaking) kinship principles rested on the assumption that birth-related ties must be re-evaluated and replaced by choice-based ones during the process of growing-up, the societies with strong “kin ties” seemed to be lingering in social childhood. I use Western social theories not as sources of intellectual wisdom, but as ethnographic artifacts produced by the intellectual elites of the so-cieties under scrutiny. Theoretical assumptions like status contract, Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft, strong-weak ties, bonding-bridging so-cial capital—all reiterate the same vision of social change where the past, and early social life is associated with ties produced through birth and the future is associated with choice. A similar framework (flesh vs spiritual kinship) was advocated by European Christians since early Medieval times. Many of these theories draw direct par-allels with (European) assumptions of individual development: if birth-related ties are not severed, pathology of sorts results. The fear (or prediction) of the constantly disappearing European family also is a part of the general narrative of growing up in Europe. I argue that we need to start looking at European kinship not via theory that was developed to describe the “rest” but as an integral part of Eu-ropean social fabric and consequently evaluate the stream of global theories (e.g., proposing ends of history) in a world where Europe heads towards the periphery.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
EventOld Discipline, New Trajectories: Theories, Methods and Practices in Anthropology - Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 16 Jun 202218 Jun 2022


ConferenceOld Discipline, New Trajectories
Internet address


  • Anthropoloty
  • theory
  • kinship
  • Europe

Field of Science*

  • 5.4 Sociology
  • 5.9 Other social sciences

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


Dive into the research topics of 'Growing up in Europe: A century of theoretical self-deception'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this