Family and Marriage: Concepts, Endogamy, Exogamy

Each family can be considered not only as an essential part of society, but also an institution with its own rules, traditions, and tendencies. Numerous societal and spiritual values circulate in families. Moreover, the memory of the ancestors, as well as their beliefs about what does it mean to be a good family, are very important. In other words, in the past, the present, and the future are inextricably linked together. In addition, as a public institution, families are of great importance, both for the individual and for the social, economic, cultural development of society. Studying the problems of marriage and the family is one of the most developed branches of social studies. The purpose of this essay is to analyze how concepts of family and marriage have changed throughout the years. It would be interesting to point out how past generations have built their domestic lives and how nowadays people tend to do that as well.

Since time immemorial, family relations have drastically modified; therefore, throughout the years, the ideas of marriage have undergone many shifts. For example, one of the most apparent factors about weddings in the past was the concept of endogamy (Saleem et al. 1603). This is a simple concept that one has to marry someone within one’s social group, which means that the newlyweds have to be of the same race, ethnicity, class, education, religion, region, or nationality. Moreover, as far as 30 years ago, marriages were mostly heterosexual. Another concept that was evident for families from past generations is the idea of a second shift (Frejka et al. 100). It means that while working at paid labor outside the home, a woman is also expected to conduct unpaid work inside the home that is often expected of them. Such tasks included keeping the house clean, preparing meals, and raising children.

Not so long ago, the destruction of the old institution of marriage allowed the formation of new types of families to begin. From these changes, new concepts have arisen, for instance, the idea of exogamy. Unlike in endogamy, an exogamous family includes spouses from different socials groups (Campbell and Martin 142). It means that the amount of interracial couples, as well as of marriages where both are from different social groups, has grown. Moreover, due to the recent legalization of gay marriage, the number of same-sex families has also increased.

Moreover, families based on love can also be considered as a relatively new concept since, in the past, there were more arranged marriages. Another interesting factor about modern and future families is the tendency for individualism. The main trends that influence the formation of modern families in Europe and the USA since the end of the 20th century are associated with changes in the value system. For example, there is a number of people who, instead of creating a family, decide to stay single and pursue different goals in life. Furthermore, there is an increase in couples who decide not to marry but to cohabitate. According to researchers, even though this type of relationship can be assumed as easy, “overall, the cohabiting couples do not feel more distressed, but do feel less satisfied with life” (Symoens and Bracke 48). In other words, there is a decrease in the number of marriages, as well as a decrease in the birth rate due to rejecting traditional values of having children as soon as possible.

In addition, standards that are associated with patriarchal families with a large number of children have historically become obsolete. In the 20th century, there is a spontaneous reduction in the number of children in a family. Moreover, divorces are becoming more frequent, while marriages are less common. This characteristic certainly reflects many trends in the development of family relations. Another important trend that should be taken into consideration is the increase in the number of single-parent families.

As for the problem of women having to work a second shift, this concept has also changed. As long as the social foundations forced women to take care of all household work, and made men to spend more time working as breadwinners, this burden was not decreasing (Frejka et al. 129). The development of new models of distributing duties went in two ways, including the feminist way of fighting for the equal distribution of family functions between husband and wife (Frejka et al. 113). Another way of lifting the weight off women’s shoulders was through the rationalization and industrialization of chores.

In conclusion, it would appear that the concepts regarding family undergone a number of drastic changes, which may seem unacceptable for older generations. It seems like marriages have become more diverse and started to include interracial and same-sex couples. Moreover, the distribution of household duties between family members has become more equal. In addition, the number of single people increased since nowadays many decide to chase different goals. Nevertheless, a family is an integral part of society, and it is impossible to reduce its importance. However, it does not mean that the described above changes raise anxiety about the future. It would be more productive to accept them instead and learn how to make a better society with these new concepts.

Works Cited

Campbell, Mary E., and Molly A. Martin. “Race, Immigration, and Exogamy Among the Native-Born: Variation Across Communities.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, vol. 2, no. 2, 2016, pp. 142-161.

Frejka, Tomas, Frances Goldscheider, and Trude Lappegård. “The Two-Part Gender Revolution, Women’s Second Shift and Changing Cohort Fertility.” Comparative Population Studies-Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, vol. 43, 2018, pp. 99-130

Saleem, Hina, Abid Ghafoor Chaudhry, and Muhammad Riaz. “Endogamy and Marital Alliances: Anthropology of Indigenous Marriage Patterns.” Pakistan Association of Anthropology, vol. 27, no. 2, 2015, pp. 1603-1605.

Symoens, Sara, and Piet Bracke. “Work-family Conflict and Mental Health in Newlywed and Recently Cohabiting Couples: A Couple Perspective.” Health Sociology Review, vol. 24, no.1, 2015, pp. 48-63.