I am still playing with words. But now I seek to understand what was the original problem of constructivism. David Schneider said, Kinship as a system of biological relationships is a “sheer nonsense.” Kinship is a symbolic system that exists solely in the minds of Euro-American anthropologists.
Enough has been written pro and con Schneider from the point of view of kinship studies. My response to Schneider comes from the other end. If kinship is a symbolic system, why did he still think that it is a construction of biological relationships? If brands are families, and their continuities are preserved through fashion, advertising and museums, why not to talk about them and leave kinship studies to their own devices? The relationship between modernity and the “post-modernists” is not that of temporal succession but of syncronic symbiosis: modernity’s blind spots are postmodernism’s blind spots, too.
Schneider once again exposes a bias and a tunnel vision: in the 1960s anthropologists only began to discover Euro-American cultures, and Schneider was firmly trapped in the old pseudo-contradictions of the descriptions of “primitive societies.” But at least once he got it right: “In short, kinship studies might profit by joining Mythologiques in backing up to the question of what sort of analogical systems people make out of whatever they make them out of, instead of assuming they make them out of genealogical kin” (Schneider & Boon 1974, 815).
Kinship systems are constructed in their own, “kinship,” way, while consumption systems are constructed in their own “consumption” way. These ways of constructing things are identical on the level of media and methodology, rather than content and substance.
This unity of media of cultural description is what I call kinsumption.