Competitive Exams: Marriage Types and Norms

Marriage is one of the universal social institutions established to control and regulate the life of mankind. It is closely associated with the institution of family. Infact both the institutions are complementary to each other. It is an institution with different implications in different cultures. Its purposes, functions and forms may differ from society to society but it is present everywhere as an institution. Westermarck in ‘History of Human marriage’ defines marriage as the more or less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of offspring. According to Malinowski marriage is a contract for the production and maintenance of children. Robert Lowie describes marriage as a relatively permanent bond between permissible mates. For Horton and Hunt marriage is the approved social pattern whereby two or more persons establish a family. The following are the different types of marriages

Polygyny

It is a form of marriage in which one man marries more than one woman at a given time. It is of two types____Sororal polygyny and non sororal polygyny

  • Sororal polygyny: It is a type of marriage in which the wives are invariably the sisters. It is often called sororate.
  • Non-sororal polygyny: It is a type of marriage in which the wives are not related as sisters.

Polyandry

It is the marriage of one woman with more than one man. It is less common than polygyny. It is of two types____Fraternal Polyandry and non fraternal polyandry.

  • Fraternal polyandry: When several brothers share the same wife the practice can be called alelphic or fraternal polyandry. This practice of being mate, actual or potential to one's husband's brothers is called levirate. It is prevalent among Todas.
  • Non-fraternal polyandry: In this type the husband need not have any close relationship prior to the marriage. The wife goes to spend some time with each husband. So long as a woman lives with one of her husbands; the others have no claim over her.

Monogamy

It is a form of marriage in which one man marries one woman. It is the most common and acceptable form of marriage.

  • Serial monogamy: In many societies individuals are permitted to marry again often on the death of the first spouse or after divorce but they cannot have more than one spouse at one and the same time.
  • Straight monogamy: In this remarriage is not allowed.

Group Marriage

It means the marriage of two or more women with two or more men. Here the husbands are common husbands and wives are common wives. Children are regarded as the children of the entire group as a whole.