"We are all bisexual"—Maurice Godelier discusses changing forms of kinship on Thinking Allowed

Maurice Godelier discusses his new book, The Metamorphoses of Kinship, on a special episode of Radio 4's Thinking Allowed, with host Laurie Taylor and distinguished British anthropologists Adam Kuper and Henrietta Moore. 

Discussing why kinship is so fundamental to anthropology, Godelier takes issue with the idea of more 'kinship-based' societies, or the idea that 'primitive' societies are much more driven by kinship, whereas more developed societies are shaped more by other structures. This is simply wrong, says Godelier. 

They go on to discuss 'new forms' of kinship, such as same sex parenting, whether we should be more concerned with universal kinship norms (such as the incest taboo)  or cultural differences. Asked by Laurie Taylor whether, for example, acceptance of gay marriage, can be made universal. Godelier replies that 'exporting' kinship norms is impossible—such changes only come about internally.

According to Godelier, in Europe two specific things have occured which have brought about the increasing acceptance of gay marriage and parenthood. Firstly the discovery of scientific evidence that homosexuality is as natural as homosexuality, and that we are all, to some degree, bisexual. Secondly, the valorisation of childhood and the desire for children, which is a very modern trend, and particular to Europe and the west. In a democratic society, where homosexuality is normal and so too is the desire to be a parent, it is only to be expected that gay parenting will become increasingly acceptable. This does not, however, mean that the same will happen elsewhere.  

Visit the BBC website to listen to the programme.

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