Marriage: Definitions, Introduction and Different Types of Marriages

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  • According to Malinowski, “Marriage is a contract for the production and maintenance of children.”
  • According to H. M. Johnson, “Marriage is a stable relationship in which a man and a woman are socially permitted without loss of standing in community to have children.”
  • According to Lowie, “Marriage is a relatively permanent bond between permissible mates.”
  • According to Horton and Hunt, “Marriage is the approved social pattern whereby two or more persons establish a family.”


  • Universal social institution
  • Bearing and rearing of children
  • Regulating human reproduction
  • Legitimacy to child
  • Helpful in matters of inheritance and succession
  • Marriage gives rise to family
  • Family cares for and trains the children
  • In modern society, marriage is synonymous with companionship

Different Types of Marriages

  • Monogamy: One partner marriage
  • Polygyny: one husband with two or more wives
  • Polyandry: one wife with two or more husbands
  • Fraternal polyandry: females marry husband՚s brother
  • Sororal polygyny: males marry the wife՚s sister


Serial monogamy: multiple partners, but not at the same time

Rules of Marriage

  • Every society has rules about who to marry and who not to marry
  • Eligibility or ineligibility of mates
  • Few inter-caste marriages
Rules of Marriage

Anloma and Pratiloma Marriages

  • Anuloma or hypergamy - Lower caste woman marries higher caste man
  • Pratiloma or hypogamy - Higher caste woman marries a lower caste man

Forms of Marriage

Marriage as a Contract in Muslims

  • It is known as Nikah
  • A contract or sacrosanct
  • Procreation and legalization of children

Marriage as a Sacrament

  • Sacred duty for Hindus to obtain Moksha
  • To perform rituals
  • To have male descendants
  • Man is considered to be incomplete without wife and children

Mate Selection

  • Choosing marriage partners
  • Some societies do not give the freedom to individuals to choose the partner they wish to marry
  • Social pressure
  • Cultural pressure
  • Pressure of a good match
  • Family background
  • Girl as housewife
  • Earning potential of groom
Mate Selection
Mate Selection

Preferential Marriage

  • Between particular categories of relations or Kins
  • Marriage across cousins are approved
  • Arabs and Muslims in India- parallel cousin wedding


  • Wealth is not disposed and remains with the related family
  • Group relations do not fade away


Q. 1. The prohibition of sagotra marriage among the Hindus is an example of marriage

(A) Taboo

(B) Clan exogamy

(C) The rules of caste endogamy

(D) The incest taboo

Answer: (B)

Q. 2. Mohammedan societies permit polygyny, but Christian ones do not. From this which of the following can be deduced?

(a) Mohammedans are conservative people

(b) Christians have a healthy conception of marriage

(c) A social norm operative in one social system may not be operative in another

(d) In Mohammedan societies, the ratios of girls are higher than boys

Ans. (c)





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