Kinship and Culture in the Television Show Game of Thrones

Over the last few decades, there has been a rise of the amount of cult followings behind television shows. As people become attached to certain shows and begin to love their interesting storylines and sometimes even more interesting characters, they become eager to immerse themselves within the world of that show. Of all of the shows on television now, one of the most popular is the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. It is renowned for its violence and explicit amount of sex scenes, but despite all that, loyal fans have begun to obsess over its multitude of characters and their stories. There is something surprising within the show, though, that the average fan might not realize: the show’s characters and their complex relationships with the other characters around them reveal an example of kinship and the culture of the families they come from, a subject which anthropologist Alex Golub explores in his article “Game of Thrones and Anthropology.”

Within the show, the characters all come from different ‘houses’ or families, of which are comprised of more than just their blood-relatives but also affinal relatives and friends of the family. Which house a character comes from ultimately determines quite a bit about who they are and why they do what they do. Some characters feel a much stronger sense of duty and honor toward their house, while others would very easily abandon everything about their origins if they could. For many of the characters of the show, their entire histories and storylines are all centered on who they are related to, and how those relationships have come to shape them as people.

There are even specific cultures that exist behind each family that highly depend upon where they live geographically in the setting of Game of Thrones, much like how people in the real world draw upon where they come from to adopt certain cultural traditions. For a television show that is completely fantastical in its setting and plot, it does have a great deal of anthropology hiding behind the fire breathing dragons and bloody battles. Game of Thrones provides excellent examples of kinship, and how our relationships with others can provide us with a source of culture.


Golub, Alex. “Game of Thrones and Anthropology.” Savage Minds. 2 July 2014. Web. <;.


One thought on “Kinship and Culture in the Television Show Game of Thrones

  1. I think that your blog is great, talking about kinship and culture. It is also interesting, relating to Game of Thrones because I watch that show and yes, that is a popular show on HBO. I agree with your statement that all characters come from different houses and that defines the role they must play in the show, whether it is being in the King Guards or being a part of the Night’s Watch. However, I would like to see a little more talk of kinship relationships and how it shapes people since you mention it briefly.

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