The Definition of Marriage Research Paper by lacfadio

The Definition of Marriage
A discussion on whether it is possible to formulate a definition of marriage with cross-cultural validity.
# 51936 | 3,925 words | 13 sources | MLA | 2003 | GB
Published on Jul 13, 2004 in Anthropology (Asian) , Anthropology (Cultural) , Sociology (General)

$19.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


This paper examines the arguments over how one can formulate a cross-cultural definition of marriage. Through a literature review, it looks at some some definitions of marriage as well as some of the ethnographies that subvert and call into question how we actually conceptualise marriage. These include the Na of Lijang, the Nayar of central Kerala, the debate over the Virgin Birth and Bourdieu?s work on marriage with a parallel patrilateral cousin. It attempts to show how these case studies call into question some of the basic understandings of kinship and marriage as formulated by both descent and alliance theorists. It concludes by looking at some of the more recent developments in kinship theory and how they can help us work towards a definition of marriage.

From the Paper:

"The economic and social factors involved in marriage have tended to be reified by many kinship theorists. One can trace some of the origin for why marriage definitions and kinship studies of marriage have been reified and abstracted in an attempt to produce harmonious wholes in the Virgin Birth debate. Dogma and ritual, Leach (1968) points out, to not necessarily correspond to internal states. One could equally argue that the reified systems of kinship studies show little relationship to how marriage actually works in all of its ambiguities."

Cite this Research Paper:

APA Format

The Definition of Marriage (2004, July 13) Retrieved July 10, 2020, from

MLA Format

"The Definition of Marriage" 13 July 2004. Web. 10 July. 2020. <>