Despite marked differences of economic orientation and settlement, the basic features of social organization are essentially similar. Kinship is bilateral, genealogical reckoning is generally shallow, and kin groups with corporate functions are lacking.
Kin Groups and Descent. Among the Bajau Laut, close kindred are distinguished from both kin generally, whether the relationship between them is traceable or not ( kampong ), and nonkin, or "other people" ( a'a saddi ). Among a person's kampong, individual descent lines ( turunan ) are recognized, each leading back to a particular ancestor; close kindred ( dampalanakan or dampo'un ) constitute, minimally, those sharing descent from common grandparents ( mbo' ), such as Ego's cognates traced bilaterally through first cousins. Descent as such, however, is of little social significance and the principal emphasis is on collateral ties. Between an individual's dampalanakan, mutual assistance is considered obligatory unless relations are ruptured by formal enmity ( bantah ), and applies in a variety of situations (i.e., life-crisis rites, illness, economic distress, litigation, and conflict). Close kindred characteristically form the core of multifamily households, household clusters, and parish groups.
Kinship Terminology. Terminology emphasizes generation, lineality, and relative age. Cousin terms are of the Eskimo type.