Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

9.4: Economic Aspects of Marriage

  • Page ID
    5622
  • [ "article:topic", "authorname:lumen" ]

    Econ_aspects_marriageSM.jpg

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) - Economic Aspects of Marriage (from Ember and Ember 2011: 195)

    Most marriages have some type of economic exchange associated with them. Only about 25% of marriages do not have an economic aspect (Ember and Ember 2011: 195).

    Anthropologists have identified the following practices:

    Bridewealth or Bride price: In this practice goods are transferred from the groom’s family to bride’s family in compensation for losing the productive and reproductive services of one of their daughters.

    Bride service: This entails the groom performing a service for the family of the bride. Bride service could take several months or even years to complete.

    Dowry: Dowry generally is practiced in cultures where women’s roles are less valued then men. This practice requires the transfer of goods from the bride’s family to the groom to compensate for acceptance of the responsibility of her support. This is most common in pastoral or agricultural societies where a market exchange is prevalent. Hypergamyoccurs when a woman uses her dowry to “marry up” and increase her and subsequently her children’s social status. Indirect dowry is a little like bride price. With this custom, the groom’s family gives goods to the bride’s father who in turn gifts them to his daughter.

    Woman exchange: With woman exchange, no gifts are exchanged by the families but each family gives a bride to the other family; each family loses a daughter but gains a daughter-in-law.

    Gift exchange: In this practice, the families of the betrothed exchange gifts of equal value.

    References

    1. Bonvillain, Nancy. 2010. Cultural Anthropology, 2nd edition. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
    2. Crapo, Richley. 2002. Cultural Anthropology: Understanding Ourselves and Others. Boston: McGraw Hill Higher Education.
    3. Ember, Carol R. and Melvin Ember. 2011. Cultural Anthropology, 13th edition. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
    4. Freedom to Marry. n.d. The Freedom to Marry Internationally. http://www.freedomtomarry.org/landsc.../international, accessed February 19, 2015.
    5. Harris, Marvin and Oran Johnson. 2007. Cultural Anthropology, 7th edition. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
    6. Keen, Ian. 2006. Polygyny. In Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Vol. 4, H. James Birx, ed. Thousand Oak, CA: Sage Reference, p. 1882-1884.
    7. Lavenda Robert H. and Emily A. Schultz. 2010. Core Concepts in Cultural Anthropology, 4th edition. Boston: McGraw Hill Higher Education.
    8. Velioti-Georgopoulos, Maria. 2006. Marriage. In Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Vol. 4, H. James Birx, ed. Thousand Oak, CA: Sage Reference, p. 1536-1540.
    9. Walker, Anthrony R. 1996. Toda. In Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 3, South Asia. New York: Macmillan Refernce USA, p. 294-298.