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LECTURE NOTES MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY CHAPTER 1 The study of Marriage and the Family is fascinating because of the different meanings attached to the terms ‘family and ‘marriage’ over time in our own society and across time in cultures around the globe. Why do people form kinship groups, or families? Why do people marry? These are questions that have fascinated social scientists as they have studied the recorded history of these human relationships. It has been difficult at times to study family because social scientists have had problems agreeing on a definition of what family is. Is it the nuclear family of the American 1950s? Is it the tribal family of the Native American? The communal families of various cultures? The family people create when they have children or when they marry? All of the above are true, but not being able to arrive at a consensus has made the study of family awkward. We are left, then, with no agreed-upon definition of the term. In the beginning of this chapter are some news stories about the controversy over what families are or should be and what rights we ought to have as spouses or parents. Look at Figure 1.1 on p. 6. Marriage is quite another thing. Your text clearly defines marriage, indicating that it is a legal contract, legitimizes the bearing and socializing of children, AND is a commitment made by one man and one woman . Each state in America decides who may marry whom, but those doing research on marriage seem to agree on the definition your authors give.
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This form of marriage is a monogamous one; one man and one woman at a time. There are other forms of marriage throughout the world, and the most widely accepted of all of them is one form of polygamy known as polygyny , one man marrying more than one woman. This marriage form is prevalent in Muslim cultures and among the wealthy in many parts of the world. It is against the law in the Unites States. The other form of polygamous marriage, polyandry , is probably no longer in existence, though it occurred in Tibetan society for a considerable period of history. In this case one woman married several brothers , a marriage which occurred among women from wealthy families, and it insured the continuation of the lineage of the men whom she married, all from one family. Still another form of marriage that is known to Asian culture is a marriage between two deceased young people whose parents adopt a child to raise and to name for the son who has died, in order that his family line is continued and his ‘spirit’ allowed to rest. You can read about this form of marriage, a spirit marriage on page 20 of your text. . So, for all recorded time, it appears that people have lived in families and have made marriages or recognized unions for the purpose of bearing and socializing children. The family serves many purposes for individuals, and these are discussed n your text. The kinship system , the social organization of the family, is based on reciprocal rights and
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course SYG 2430 taught by Professor Lindalotz during the Spring '08 term at South Florida Community College.

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