A "clan" is a kinship word used to refer to a group of individuals who claim shared unilineal heritage. Clans are identified from one another by mentioning an ancestor, who may be mythological or non-human.
Clan Sociology Definition


A “clan” is a kinship word used to refer to a group of individuals who claim shared unilineal heritage. Clans are identified from one another by mentioning an ancestor, who may be mythological or non-human. A clan is a group of people claiming lineage from only one family side. This can only be patrilineal or matrilineal. 

According to renowned social scientist, William P. Scott clan is “a unilateral kin-group based on either matrilineal or patrilineal descent.

Dhirendra Nath Majumdar and T. N. Madan defined clan by stating, “A sib or clan is often a combination of few lineages and descent who may be ultimately traced to a mythical ancestor, who may be a human or human-like animal, plant or even in animate”.


A clan is a unilineal kin group that often practices exogamy, claims shared ancestry, and is frequently denoted by a totem. Clans enlist the offspring of their male or female members according to their matrilineal/matriclan or patrilineal/patriclan heritage. Lineages, which are the branches of ancestry from a common ancestor, are the typical divisions of a clan.

The names of the family’s lineal descendants are used to identify them. The lineages of the mother and father are never combined to form a clan. It is unidirectional. Either patrilineal or matrilineal lineage is possible.

Clan Characteristics

A . Exogamous group 

Since every clan member considers themselves a direct descendant of an ancestor, the clan is an exogamous society. They, therefore, do not wed any of their clan members.

B. Shared ancestor

The idea of a common ancestor is the foundation for the clan’s structure. The ancestor may have been mythological or genuine.

C. Unilateral

The nature of the clan is unilateral, meaning that either all the families on the mother’s side or all the families on the father’s side make up one clan.

D. The Marriage Rules

It offers guidelines for unions, rituals, inheritance, and social control.

E. Based on location

It is located in a few particular locations.

F. Authority

It has social, economic, political, and cultural influence over a specific region.

G. Middle section

It is a unit between a family and a descent.

Functions of Clan

The clan’s primary functions and responsibilities are as follows:

A. Control over members

People who engage in antisocial behavior are deported from the clan. The behavior of clan members is managed in this manner. Even the death penalty for the members is less effective and destructive than extradition from the clan.

B . Mutual protection and assistance

A clan’s members have a “we feeling” because they think they have a common progenitor. They are willing to do more than help one another; they are even willing to risk their lives for one another. Everyone in the clan feels the anguish of one member’s injury. 

C. Legal function

Punishing criminals and upholding law and order in this way is the clan’s universally recognized duty in the legal system.

D . Property

The clan makes arrangements for agricultural land in the hamlet, where agriculture is practiced. The territory was divided by the clan chief. When expelled from the clan, a person loses both this land and clan membership. 

E . Religious function

Religious function Typically, the clan’s priest serves as its leader. All of the members’ religious endeavors are completed by him.

F . Political activities

For its members, the clan handles all administrative and political tasks. The leaders of the different clans get together to form a committee for the tribe, which is responsible for making political choices during times of peace and war and mediating disputes amongst clan members.

G . Exogamy

With the aid of the exogamy legislation, the clan arranges unions between individuals from different social groups. This helps foster more excellent camaraderie and friendliness among clan members while preventing disputes amongst males over a lady within the clan.

H . Applying distinct rules of engagement.

There are uniform rules of engagement among clan members. Clan members behave and handle situations differently from other clan members and outsiders.

I . High cohesiveness by maintaining order

Members must adhere to the clan’s rules. A member may be excommunicated due to severe disobedience.

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