• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Marriage and Informal Unions

Sociologists and anthropologists generally define marriage as the socially recognized and accepted sexual union between two adult individuals. In particular, anthropologists have ascribed to marriage some functions they deem fundamental for maintaining relations between human groups. Specifically, some men belonging to a certain social group could establish relationships and create alliances with other social groups through the exchange of women. The customary prohibition of incest and rules supporting exogamy, which forbid marriage between members of the same family, seem to support this possibility.

Social and Legal Theories

In addition to its function of linking two lineages not tied by blood bond, establishing a kinship system between the two people who get married, marriage also has the function of guaranteeing children a legitimate father, who does not necessarily ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles