Social Journal

Social Journal

I interviewed my friend who comes from Luhya tribe in Kenya. The Luhya are the second largest ethnic tribe in Kenya accounting for fourteen percent of the population. Traditionally, the Luhya culture was centered along extended family and the clan. They practiced polygamy, and a man was accorded much respect in relation to the number of wives that man had.

A social structure can be defined as an organized pattern or group of social relationships and social institutions which together make up the society. Social structure can also be defined as the internal institutionalized relationships made up by persons living within a group either as a family or a community. They have rules and principles that regulate their behavior (Abercrombie, 2000).

A family can be defined as an intimate domestic set-up or group comprised of people related to each other by strong bonds like blood, legalities or sexual mating. However, there are many views today regarding the definition of family.

It is beneficial to reflect on family as a social structure because it provides a healthier and safer environment for both the adults and the children. Children in intact families perform better in schools. They also exhibit or show fewer behavioral problems and when they are adults, they are likely to form more healthy romantic relationships (Barker, 2005).

In Luhya culture, my friend as a son had the roles of herding cattle, tilling land for farming, ensuring that his family is secure at all times when he is a grown up. The father was and still is the bread winner of the family. His mother’s roles revolve around housework; the daughter’s roles are assisting her mother in her chores.

My friend’s family originated from a Luhya sub group known as the Bukusu. The Bukusu families were highly polygamous. All members of the family were confined to specific roles. Discipline among the children was the responsibility of the heads of the family and other elders.

Some of the historical trends that Coontz denote that impact my friend’s family include the roles assigned to specific genders, e.g., that of women being confined to housework such as cleaning and cooking. In her book (Coontz, 2006) Stephanie Coontz slams our misjudgment of the “traditional family”. She writes with passionate feeling to disagree what many have been urging society to go back into. The authore reminds us how the traditional families throughout our history were demeaning, full of sexual and racial intolerance, interpersonal conflict, and class divisions.

My friend’s family was not traditional. All his siblings and himself were brought up in an urban town where his father had been employed. However, his parents had been brought up in a traditional set up.

In conclusion, the study of the Luhya social structure is very broad yet interesting. The family was and still is considered as the basic unit of identity and socialization. Each member in the family had an important role to play that was different from the other. Strong rules and regulations in place guaranteed good morality at all times and fear of the severe consequences that would follow if one broke those rules. My friend’s family of origin has helped in shaping the kind of person he is, enabling him have good morality in the society due to the way he was brought up. He respects people especially those who are older than him and he is obedient. Being taught his family of origin’s virtues, he fully understands his responsibilities towards his kindred as a man protecting his family and being able to socialize well with his friends.


  • Abercrombie, N. S. (2000). Social Structure in the Penguin Dictionary of Sociology . Barker, C. (2005). Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice. London: Sage. ISBN 0-7619-4156-8 p448.

Coontz, S. (2006). The Way We Weren’t: The Myth and Reality of the Traditional Family. Prentice            Hall.



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