MARRIAGE Concept, Definitions and Laws of Marriage for Competitive Exams

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Marriage Concept, Definitions and Laws

Marriage Concept, Definitions and Laws

Marriage: Concept, Definitions, Laws of Marriage And Evaluation of Marriage (Anthropology)

The Concept of Marriage

  • Marriage is an institution or complex of social norms that sanctions the relationship of a man and a woman and binds them in a system of mutual obligations and rights essential to the functioning of family life.

  • Marriage is a universal phenomenon. Anthropologist have been trying to provide universal definitions for this institution.

Evolution of Marriage

Image of Evolution of Marriage

Image of Evolution of Marriage

  • Early social thinkers, basically the followers of evolutionism were of the opinion that human being lived in a state of promiscuity where individual marriage did not exist. In such a society all men had access to all women and children thus, born were the responsibility of the society at large. This gave rise to group marriage to bring regulation and general order in the society. However, later in the day the natural instinct of jealousy imbedded in human beings has been assumed as the reason behind single marriages to restore harmony in a society

  • Let’s try to understand what the term ‘marriage’ stands for through definitions given by different anthropologist.

Image of George Peter Murdock

Image of George Peter Murdock

George Peter Murdock

  • George Peter Murdock defined Marriage as a universal institution that involves residential co-habitation, economic co-operation and the formation of the nuclear family.

  • While Westermarck had emphasized on marriage as a recognized union between a man and a woman, that the spouse lives together and that the couple have clearly recognized mutual sexual rights.

  • These definitions are not considered universal as it could not accommodate polygynous and polyandry marriages and marriages where spouses lived in separate household.

Image of Kathleen Gough

Image of Kathleen Gough

Kathleen Gough

  • Kathleen Gough in her study of the Nayars has defined marriage as a ‘relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons, which provides that a child born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited by the rules of relationship of her society, is accorded full birth-status rights common to normal members of his society and or social stratum.’

  • William N. Stephens defined marriage as ‘a socially legitimate sexual union, begun with public pronouncement undertaken with the idea of permanence, assumed with more or less explicit marriage contract which spells out reciprocal economic obligations between spouses, and their future children.

Image of William N. Stephens

Image of William N. Stephens

William N. Stephens

  • These definitions could not prove to be universal hence for the convenience of anthropological discourse we would refer to the definitions of marriage as in Notes and Queries

  • Notes and Queries: Marriage is a union between a man and a woman such that the children born to the woman are recognized as legitimate offspring of both partners

Laws of Marriage

  • Societies have their own norms when it comes to marriage. Every society has rules which deal with whom to marry and who is out of bounds for marriage in that society. While selecting one’s mate one has to follow certain norms and choose the bride/ groom within these norms.

  • There are three major types of rules of marriage:

Image of Laws of Marriage

Image of Laws of Marriage

  • Proscriptive Rules: These rules direct whom a person should not marry. These rules are majorly concerned with incest taboos. Incest Taboos is a universal norm for almost all societies, which pertains to restriction in marriage and sexual relations among certain categories of close relatives generally related by blood like father and daughter, mother and son and sometimes also parallel cousins.

  • Though there are few societies where incest taboos are not prevalent, for example, among earlier Greek and the Hawaiian royal families. In ancient royal families, it was believed that royalty could only be passed down to the child of two royal families members, usually brothers and sisters.

  • The Tallensi of Ghana does not strongly prescribe to norm of incest taboo between brother and sister while a relationship between a man and the wife of a lineage mate is an unpardonable

  • Prescriptive Rules: These rules direct whom a person should/can marry. The rules of endogamy or exogamy are prescribed norms in many societies to which a man has to adhere while acquiring a mate. Endogamy refers to marriage within a group, while Exogamy means marriage outside the group.

  • For example, Todas in India are divided into two endogamous moieties, each with separate economic & ritual functions. Each of these endogamous moieties is having number of clans. Marriage occurs outside the clan in the same moiety. It is often theorized that exogamy developed as an extension of incest taboo.

Image of Todas of Southern India

Image of Todas of Southern India

Todas of Southern India

  • Preferential Rules: These rules are related to whom an individual can prefer to marry.

  • Best examples of preferential rules are among cousins (cross or parallel), levirate and sororate marriages

  • Cross- Cousins are the children of siblings of opposite sex (brother- sister) while the children of siblings of the same sex (brother- brother) are called parallel cousins.

  • In many of the Islamic societies a man marries his father’s brother’s daughter known as parallel cousin- a rare form of endogamy. The Kurds of eastern and south-eastern Turkey will still continue with the practice of parallel cousin marriage.

  • Levirate is a form of marriage, in which after the decease of an elder brother the younger brother is obliged to marry the widow. Sororate is the practice of the widower marrying the sister of his dead wife.

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# Laws of Marriage: Proscriptive, Prescriptive and Preferential

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#NET

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