Obituary: David Schneider, Anthropology
David Schneider, a University faculty member for 26 years who pioneered new approaches to the study of kinship, died Oct. 30 at his home in Santa Cruz, Calif. He was 78.
Schneider, the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Anthropology, is perhaps best known as the author of American Kinship: A Cultural Account (1968; second edition 1980), a book that challenged contemporary anthropological theory.
He viewed kinship not as a natural system founded on bloodlines, and therefore essentially uniform across cultures, but as a cultural system that varied among peoples.
The book revolutionized scholarship in the field because it prompted researchers to examine the cultural origins of kinship and, accordingly, the ways in which sex roles are culturally based.
Schneider joined the Chicago faculty in 1960, after serving on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley. He was Chairman of Anthropology from 1963 to 1966.
While at Chicago, Schneider was director of the Kinship Project, a study supported by the National Science Foundation that looked at how middle-class families in the United States and Great Britain respond to their kinship relations.
Among the books he wrote, co-wrote or edited are Marriage, Authority and Final Causes (1955), Matrilineal Kinship (1961), Middle Class and Lower Class American Kinship (1970), Class Differences and Sex Roles in American Kinship and Family Structure (1973) and The American Kin Universe: A Genealogical Study (1975).
Schneider was also an authority on the Yap people of Micronesia and was the author of The Micronesians of Yap and Their Depopulation (1949).
He received his B.S. in 1940 and his M.S. in 1941 from Cornell and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1949. After retiring from Chicago in 1986, he joined the anthropology department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
He is survived by two sons.