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Lisa M. Vaughn

In: 21st Century Anthropology: A Reference Handbook

Chapter 16: Marriage and the Family

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Marriage and the Family
Marriage and the family

Marriage and families are found in all societies; however, marriage and family customs vary significantly across cultures. Cultures differ with regard to what is considered appropriate premarital behavior, whom one marries, how one marries, a proper marriage ceremony, and length and purpose of the marriage. From an anthropological perspective, there are various marriage systems or “marriagelike” relationships that fulfill both biological and social functions. Regarding families, all societies have parent-child social groups but the size and form of the family varies. Although marriage remains customary across societies, it does not necessarily constitute the basis for family life.


Marriage is found in virtually all societies, and the majority (some 90%) of people in every society get married at least once ...

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