Steve Sailer noted that the study of family structure has fallen on hard times in anthropology. This is perfectly true. It is now very widely believed by anthropologists that 'kinship' is a Eurocentric construction, and that other folks actually have their own folk theories about 'relatedness' which have to be understood in their own terms, and don't map closely on to Western folk theories of 'blood' and biology (which in turn don't map closely on to actual genetic relatedness)
Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, even serious treatments of kinship often veer between microscopic and telescopic: either details of particular societies or general principles underlying all human kinship systems. But there's also a middle range to kinship: different geographic areas have (on average) characteristic differences in their kinship systems.
In Sub-Saharan Africa (henceforth just 'Africa'), for example, family establishments commonly take the form of separate households for each of a man's co-wives (and her children), with husbands moving between wives' households, and women having considerable autonomy, and not much day-to-day economic support. Polygyny is certainly found outside of Africa, but this particular household arrangement is vastly more common in
Africathan anywhere else. African societies also generally have strong unilineal descent groups, and great religious power vested in elders and ancestors. (This actually converges somewhat with , but economics and male-female relations are very different there). Marriage is stronger in some parts of China Africathan others, but is generally seen as a device for expanding the lineage, rather than as an economic and emotional union. Within Africa. the major exceptions to these generalizations are often genetic outliers as well: Bushmen, Pygmies, and Ethiopians.
Africans on the other side of the
Atlanticare an interesting comparison. In some ways they look very African: marriage is not very strong among blacks in the New World. But in other respects, New World blacks look Western: African lineage systems and ancestor worship didn't survive the Middle Passage and slavery (except among scattered maroon (i.e. runaway slave) groups in places like ). One result is that, although blacks in the Surinam US, the Caribbean, and Brazilhave all sorts of social problems related in part to family structure, tribalism is really not the issue that it is in Africa.
More speculatively, another result may be much higher levels of creativity in popular culture, especially music, among blacks on the western side of the Atlantic than in
Africa. I suspect that alone has had as much impact on popular culture around the world as all of sub-Saharan African. There are all sorts of factors contributing here: more money, more miscegenation, a greater proportion of English speakers. But it may also be that in the African Diaspora as in the Jewish Diaspora, the assimilation of Western individualism has unleashed a degree of cultural creativity not seen in more tradition-bound kin-group-oriented sectors of the population. Jamaica
I had a summer job once sharing an office with a Ph.D. student from Cameroon. All day long we played his tapes of African pop music. Wonderful stuff, but it lacked the "star power" of African-American pop music. It was more communal, less show-offy than James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, or Jimi Hendrix.