Monogamy Monogamy is a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse during their lifetime or at any one time serial monogamy.
Anthropologist Jack Goody 's comparative study of marriage around the world utilizing the Ethnographic Atlas found a strong correlation between intensive plough agriculture, dowry and monogamy. This pattern was found in a broad swath of Eurasian societies from Japan to Ireland.
The majority of Sub-Saharan African societies that practice extensive hoe agriculture, in contrast, show a correlation between " bride price " and polygamy.
In all cases, the second marriage is considered legally null and void. Besides the second and subsequent marriages being void, the bigamist is also liable to other penalties, which also vary between jurisdictions. Serial monogamy Governments that support monogamy may allow easy divorce. Those who remarry do so on average three times. Divorce and remarriage can thus result in "serial monogamy", i. This can be interpreted as a form of plural mating, as are those societies dominated by female-headed families in the Caribbean , Mauritius and Brazil where there is frequent rotation of unmarried partners.
The "ex-wife", for example, remains an active part of her "ex-husband's" or "ex-wife's" life, as they may be tied together by transfers of resources alimony, child support , or shared child custody.
Bob Simpson notes that in the British case, serial monogamy creates an "extended family" — a number of households tied together in this way, including mobile children possible exes may include an ex-wife, an ex-brother-in-law, etc.
These "unclear families" do not fit the mould of the monogamous nuclear family. As a series of connected households, they come to resemble the polygynous model of separate households maintained by mothers with children, tied by a male to whom they are married or divorced.
Polygamy Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners. The suffix "-gamy" refers specifically to the number of spouses, as in bi-gamy two spouses, generally illegal in most nations , and poly-gamy more than one spouse.
Societies show variable acceptance of polygamy as a cultural ideal and practice. According to the Ethnographic Atlas , of 1, societies noted, were monogamous; had occasional polygyny; had more frequent polygyny; and 4 had polyandry.
The actual practice of polygamy in a tolerant society may actually be low, with the majority of aspirant polygamists practicing monogamous marriage. Tracking the occurrence of polygamy is further complicated in jurisdictions where it has been banned, but continues to be practiced de facto polygamy. The vast majority of the world's countries, including virtually all of the world's developed nations, do not permit polygamy.
There have been calls for the abolition of polygamy in developing countries. Concubinage Polygyny usually grants wives equal status, although the husband may have personal preferences. One type of de facto polygyny is concubinage , where only one woman gets a wife's rights and status, while other women remain legal house mistresses. Although a society may be classified as polygynous, not all marriages in it necessarily are; monogamous marriages may in fact predominate.
It is to this flexibility that Anthropologist Robin Fox attributes its success as a social support system: To correct this condition, females had to be killed at birth, remain single, become prostitutes, or be siphoned off into celibate religious orders. Polygynous systems have the advantage that they can promise, as did the Mormons, a home and family for every woman. In some cases, there is a large age discrepancy as much as a generation between a man and his youngest wife, compounding the power differential between the two.
Tensions not only exist between genders, but also within genders; senior and junior men compete for wives, and senior and junior wives in the same household may experience radically different life conditions, and internal hierarchy. Several studies have suggested that the wive's relationship with other women, including co-wives and husband's female kin, are more critical relationships than that with her husband for her productive, reproductive and personal achievement.
Often, however, it is difficult to draw a hard and fast line between the two. Although it does not involve multiple now illegal formal marriages, the domestic and personal arrangements follow old polygynous patterns. The de facto form of polygyny is found in other parts of the world as well including some Mormon sects and Muslim families in the United States.
This is not a lesbian relationship, but a means of legitimately expanding a royal lineage by attaching these wives' children to it. The relationships are considered polygynous, not polyandrous, because the female husband is in fact assuming masculine gendered political roles.
It is allowed in Islam and Confucianism. Judaism and Christianity have mentioned practices involving polygyny in the past, however, outright religious acceptance of such practices was not addressed until its rejection in later passages. They do explicitly prohibit polygyny today.
Polyandry , Polyandry in Tibet , and Polyandry in India Polyandry is notably more rare than polygyny, though less rare than the figure commonly cited in the Ethnographic Atlas which listed only those polyandrous societies found in the Himalayan Mountains.
More recent studies have found 53 societies outside the 28 found in the Himalayans which practice polyandry. It is associated with partible paternity, the cultural belief that a child can have more than one father. If every brother married separately and had children, family land would be split into unsustainable small plots. In Europe, this was prevented through the social practice of impartible inheritance the dis-inheriting of most siblings, some of whom went on to become celibate monks and priests.
Of the societies reported by the American anthropologist George Murdock in , only the Kaingang of Brazil had any group marriages at all. Child marriage A child marriage is a marriage where one or both spouses are under the age of Child marriage was common throughout history, even up until the s in the United States, where in CE, in the state of Delaware , the age of consent for marriage was 7 years old.
Twelve years later, in , John filed for divorce. Today, child marriages are widespread in parts of the world; being most common in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa , with more than half of the girls in some countries in those regions being married before In developed countries child marriage is outlawed or restricted. Girls who marry before 18 are at greater risk of becoming victims of domestic violence , than those who marry later, especially when they are married to a much older man.
Same-sex marriage and History of same-sex unions As noted above, several kinds of same-sex, non-sexual marriages exist in some lineage-based societies. This section relates to same-sex sexual unions. Some cultures include third gender two-spirit or transgender individuals, such as the berdache of the Zuni in New Mexico.
We'wha , one of the most revered Zuni elders an Ihamana, spiritual leader served as an emissary of the Zuni to Washington, where he met President Grover Cleveland. We'wha had a husband who was generally recognized as such. The Codex Theodosianus C. Examples include the Celtic practice of handfasting and fixed-term marriages in the Muslim community.
The Islamic prophet Muhammad sanctioned a temporary marriage — sigheh in Iran and muta'a in Iraq — which can provide a legitimizing cover for sex workers. The matrilineal Mosuo of China practice what they call "walking marriage". Cohabitation and Common-law marriage In some jurisdictions cohabitation , in certain circumstances, may constitute a common-law marriage , an unregistered partnership , or otherwise provide the unmarried partners with various rights and responsibilities; and in some countries the laws recognize cohabitation in lieu of institutional marriage for taxation and social security benefits.
This is the case, for example, in Australia. However, in this context, some nations reserve the right to define the relationship as marital, or otherwise to regulate the relation, even if the relation has not been registered with the state or a religious institution. In some cases couples living together do not wish to be recognized as married.
This may occur because pension or alimony rights are adversely affected; because of taxation considerations; because of immigration issues, or for other reasons. Such marriages have also been increasingly common in Beijing. Guo Jianmei, director of the center for women's studies at Beijing University, told a Newsday correspondent, "Walking marriages reflect sweeping changes in Chinese society.
There is variation in the degree to which partner selection is an individual decision by the partners or a collective decision by the partners' kin groups, and there is variation in the rules regulating which partners are valid choices. Social status Main article: Hypergamy Some people want to marry a person with higher or lower status than them.
Others want to marry people who have similar status. In many societies women marry men who are of higher social status. There are other marriages in which the man is older than the woman.
Prohibited degree of kinship , Cousin marriage , Affinity canon law , and Avunculate marriage Societies have often placed restrictions on marriage to relatives, though the degree of prohibited relationship varies widely. Marriages between parents and children, or between full siblings, with few exceptions,         have been considered incest and forbidden.
Such marriages are illegal in most countries due to incest restrictions. However, a small number of countries have legalized it, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Malaysia ,  and Russia. In various societies the choice of partner is often limited to suitable persons from specific social groups.
In some societies the rule is that a partner is selected from an individual's own social group — endogamy , this is often the case in class- and caste-based societies. But in other societies a partner must be chosen from a different group than one's own — exogamy , this may be the case in societies practicing totemic religion where society is divided into several exogamous totemic clans, such as most Aboriginal Australian societies.
In other societies a person is expected to marry their cross-cousin , a woman must marry her father's sister's son and a man must marry his mother's brother's daughter — this is often the case if either a society has a rule of tracing kinship exclusively through patrilineal or matrilineal descent groups as among the Akan people of West Africa.
Another kind of marriage selection is the levirate marriage in which widows are obligated to marry their husband's brother, mostly found in societies where kinship is based on endogamous clan groups. Religion has commonly weighed in on the matter of which relatives, if any, are allowed to marry.
Relations may be by consanguinity or affinity , meaning by blood or by marriage. On the marriage of cousins, Catholic policy has evolved from initial acceptance, through a long period of general prohibition, to the contemporary requirement for a dispensation.
In a wide array of lineage-based societies with a classificatory kinship system , potential spouses are sought from a specific class of relative as determined by a prescriptive marriage rule. This rule may be expressed by anthropologists using a "descriptive" kinship term, such as a "man's mother's brother's daughter" also known as a "cross-cousin".
Such descriptive rules mask the participant's perspective: Within the society's kinship terminology, such relatives are usually indicated by a specific term which sets them apart as potentially marriageable. Pierre Bourdieu notes, however, that very few marriages ever follow the rule, and that when they do so, it is for "practical kinship" reasons such as the preservation of family property, rather than the "official kinship" ideology.