Defining Marriage and Family:

  • Marriage: a socially recognized, enduring, stable bond between two (or more) people who have certain rights and obligations toward one another

o Socially recognized

o Producing new rights and new obligations

o 2 major functions or marriage:

  • Institution producing descendants
  • Creates alliances (Levi Strauss wrote about this)

n Affines

n Incest taboo

n 2 kinds of people in this world (those you can have relationships with and those that you cannot)

  • Household: group of people occupying an common dwelling
  • Family: a marriage couple, or other group of adult kin folk, who cooperate economically in the upbringing of children, most sharing a common dwelling

Families and Ideal Types:

  • Nuclear families

o Common in both foraging and industrial societies

o Parents and their children

o Includes single-parent families

  • Extended and joint families

o More common worldwide than nuclear families

o 3 or more generations (parents, children, and grandparents) living in common group

o Especially prevalent in farming and pastoral economies

Endogamy, Exogamy, and the Incest Taboo:

  • Incest taboo: a ban on sexual relations within the nuclear family
  • While the incest taboo is universal, beyond the nuclear family “forbidden” relatives are different in different societies
  • Cultural aspects
  • Endogamy: marrying within your lineage

o To maintain social hierarchies and status

o Ex: castes system in India, racial classification in the US

Exogamy: marrying outside your lineage

Effects of Exogamy on Social Organization:

  • Village exogamy

o Creates alliances over broader geographic region

o Ex: marrying someone in Brandon

  • Lineage and clan exogamy

o Binds descent groups into larger systems of relationship

  • Alliance theory

Effects of Endogamy on Social Organization:

  • Class or rank endogamy

o Castes

o Marry within your caste (India)

  • Ethnic and racial endogamy

o Ethnic groups and “races”

o Until 1970/1980 couldn't marry outside race (US)

  • Religious endogamy

o Faith communities

Forms of Marriage:

  • Monogamy

o Serial monogamy

  • Polygamy

o Plural marriage

o Two forms:

  • Polygyny

n Marriage between a man and two or more women

n Sororal polygyny

  • Polyandry

n Marriage between a woman and two or more men

n Fraternal polyandry

Explanations of Polygyny:

  • Occurs in different societies for different reasons

o May help correct sex ratio imbalance in societies where women outnumber men

o May be tied to wealth and status, especially in strongly patriarchal societies, where women are viewed as property

o Adaptive in societies where women serve important economic roles o Children increase social status in patrilineal societies through growth of lineage or clan

Other Forms of Marriage:

  • Same-sex marriage

o Traditionally allowed in some societies

o Legal in Canada, South Africa, and in some European countries

o Judith Bulter suggests that it:

  • Extends the power of the state

n Why would you want the state to have more control over your life - don't get married

  • Breaks long-standing alliances
  • Adaptive forms

o Marriage to ensure continuation of partilineal or matrilineal descent groups o Nuer (Southern Sudan)

  • “Ghost marriage”

n If a man died, his brother can marry a woman in his place

n Their children belong to the dead guy - keeps the dead guys lineage going

n The dead man is the socially recognized father

n Also in Singaporean Chinese

  • Woman as “husband”

n Woman cant have children with husband so secret boyfriend impregnates her

n Adding people to her kin group, even though she cannot have children

n Husband is socially recognized father

Levi Strauss:

  • Women - Marriage (1940's)
  • Wrote about how women are the objects of exchange/trade between men in most societies
  • Ex: walking woman down the aisle and giving her off to the new husband (object being traded)

Marriage as Alliance and Economic Exchange:

  • Marriage establishes an economic and a social relationship
  • 3 forms of economic exchange:

o Bride wealth

  • Also called bride price, but not purchasing the woman
  • Gifts from the grooms family to the brides family

n Represents new alliances and compensation for the loss of the daughters labour (one less person to work around house) o Bride service

  • For months/years, the groom works for the brides family o Dowry
  • Brides family gives gifts/cash to the grooms family
  • All the stuff that a bride will need to make up her own household
  • Early inheritance
  • Out of control today, what is expected from family and violence

n Dowry free weddings - modern

Marriage as a Rite of Passage:

  • Arranged marriages

o Common where alliances formed through marriage are important

  • Courtship

o Common in societies without arranged marriages, where people choose their own marriage partners

  • Wedding rituals

o Publicly confirm change in marital and kinship status

  • We live in a post traditional world, where it is now about the individual and love
  • Bride capture:

o The groom and kinfolk kidnap bride from family

o All in good fun, fake rescue of the girl

o Traffic in women/alliances - exchange of women “conversion of female labour into male wealth”

Patterns of Residence after Marriage:

  • Residence Rules:

o Matrilocal and Patrilocal

  • With or near either family

o Avunculocal

  • Resides with the husbands mothers brother

o Bilocal and Neolocal

  • Bilocal - alternate between residence
  • Neolocal - a new home for both

Widowhood and Divorce:

  • Levirate and Soroate

o Levirate: if a woman's husband dies, she marries his brother

o Soroate: If a mans wife dies, he marries her sister

o In the event of a spouses death

o Strategies to preserve kin ties

  • Divorce

o Societies vary in their beliefs concerning divorce and remarriage

o May be freely practiced, or subject to social and religious restrictions o In extremely patriarchal societies, only men may have the right to divorce

Bigamy and Polygamy:

  • Bigamy: one has two spouses

o Illegal in the US - crime

o Marrying someone before your divorce is final

  • Polygamy: one has multiple spouses

Introduction: Gender, Sexuality, Race and Inequality:

  • Biological determinism: when explorers saw these strange sexual practices, they must be from a deeply rooted biological drive (the primitives could not help it)

o Negative way of approach

o Victorian Era

o Led to medicalization

  • Medicalization: deviant sexual practices were given a medical diagnosis

o “sick” and “well” (good and bad)

  • 1930-1950's - very socially conservative time (family centered, kinship structures, sexuality in families)
  • Levi Strauss: women were objects exchanged amongst men (in his kinship model) - 1960's
  • 1960-1970

o Civil Rights Movement in the US - racial equality

o Stonewall Riots in NYC - sexual equality

o March for Women's Rights - gender equality

  • 1960's - prompted feminist anthropology

o It is not about women power, women first, etc

o It is a different way of thinking and approaching a problem

o Shows all the types of people in the world, not just Western white heterosexual men

  • Sex is biological and gender is socially constructed
  • Judith Butler - “gender is performance”
  • Queer theory:

o Nothing within your identity is fixed

o Your identity is little more than a pile of social and cultural things which you have previously expressed or which have been said about you

o There is not really an “inner self”- we come to believe that we have one based on repeatedly talking about it

o Gender, like other aspects of identity, is a performance, reinforced through repetition

o People can therefore change