In his book, titled, The Disappearance of the Incest Taboo, Yehudi Cohen, contends
that incest rules naturally relax in societies that don't depend upon marriage among
outside extended kinship groups as a means of survival.
Cohen shows that as population increases in a human society, and as government, businesses,
and other non-kin-based institutions become increasingly responsible for the economic,
social, and political functions previously performed by kinship relations in lineage-based
societies because the social importance of intermarriage between lineage groups declined.
This decline leads to a gradual disappearance of the incest taboo as well as a reduction
in the actual definition of what constitutes incest.
Proof of Yehudi Cohen's argument can be seen by examining the definition of incest
used by most states in the United States where incest today refers only to marriage
or sexual relations within the immediate family. Incest no longer applies to first
cousins, and in Massachusetts, it applies only to parents and children. Ohio only
criminalizes incestuous parents. Nowhere in the United States do we see the elaborate
and complicated incest-avoidance rules typical of lineage-based societies.
Incest Issues in: Religion, Psychology, History, Biography, etc.