Marriage || Social Institutions || Bcis Notes

Marriage || Social Institutions || Bcis Notes


Definitions of Marriage:

Marriage is one of the universal social institutions. There is no definition which adequately covers all types of human marriage but some of the definition is:

  • Horton and Hunt, “It is the approved social pattern whereby two or more persons establish a family”.
  • Robert H, Lowie, “It is a relatively permanent bond between permissible mates.”
  • B. Malinowski, “It is a contract for the production and Maintenance of Children.”

Religion and industrialization have a great impact on marriage. From the Hindu perspective, it is a continuous tradition that believes the relationship between husband and wife remains unbroken from this world to another world, where divorce is never expected to happen.

Definitions by Encyclopedia:

International Encyclopedia of Social Science has defined “It may be defined as the cultural approved relationship of one man and one woman (Monogamy), or one woman and two or more man (Polygyny) or one man and two or more women Polyandry (Bahu pati Bibaha) in which there is a cultural endorsement of sexual intercourse between the marital partners of the opposite sex and generally the exception children will be born of relation”.

Characteristics :

  • Universality- prevalent everywhere
  • Relationship between man and woman- Union of Man and Woman. It Indicates the relationship between one or more men to one or more women. Who should marry whom? One Should marry how many? Are the Questions which represent Social rules regarding marriage that differ significantly.
  • This bond is an Enduring bond- A long-lasting Bond. Hinduism believes that the Marriage bond is a sacred bond between husband and wife which cannot break even after death. Couple use to promise to be together till the 7th of birth etc.
  • Marriage requires social approval-Social Approval is the ultimate way to get legal recognition.
  •  Marriage is associated with some civil or religious ceremony- Marriage gets its social recognition through some ceremony(rituals, customs). It has a direct connection with religious thought. Eg- normally people use to get married in churches, Temple, Masjid, etc.
  •  Family and Kinship are created through Marriage.
  •  Marriage creates mutual obligation- Marriage imposes certain rights and duties on both Husband and wife. Both are required to support each other and their children too.
  •  There has been a lack of a Universal definition of marriage.

Functions :

  • It maintains the regulation of sex life. It avoids INCEST(the sexual relationship between father & daughter Brother & sister) it also prohibits sexual relations between closet relatives.
  • It provides Social Security.
  • Children born after marriage get social validity and get rights from their parents.
  • It creates a social division of labor of males and females through which the couple feels social responsibility and duty.


A. Based on Numbers of spouse:

  • Monogamy (Ekal Bibaha)
  • Polygamy (Bahu Patni Bibaha)
  • Polyandry(Bahu Pati Bibaha)
  • Group (Samuha Bibaha)
  • Experimental Marriage

1. Monogamy (Ekal Bibaha):

  •  One man One woman, Common in Every Society, Stable and permanent and Harmonious relation relationship, but there are chances of Extra Marital affair.
  • Monogamy has a long history of own ancient Jews, Christians, the Greek philosopher Aristotle had recommended monogamous marriage.


  • Universally practiced.
  • Economically Better Suitable.
  • Promotes better understanding between husband and wife.- peace, solidarity, and happiness.

2. Polygamy (Bahupatni Bibaha):

Two or more than a wife during his life. In the Nepalese context, kings, feudal and elite groups have the trend of practicing polygamy. It results in conflict, economic burden, and instability in the family. Common in the Muslim community. African Negro also has this kind of practice.

  • It may also occur in childlessness.
  • Death of wife.
  • Mental illness of Wife.
  • Elope/Extramarital status of wife.

3. Polyandry (Bahu Pati Bibaha):

A woman is married to more than one husband in her life. This marriage is still common in Sherpas of the Himalayan region of Nepal and in Tibetans, Todes of India, Srilanka, and Africa too.

Two types of polyandry

  • 1st-Fraternal polyandry where woman marriage with all brothers of a family at a single time.
  • 2nd woman keeps marital relations to more men or to anybody else.

4. Group Marriage(Samuha Bibaha)

It means the marriage of two or more women with two or more two men. It was the first stage of human evolution. Hunting and gathering stage is prevalent where they used to live together in caves, and wild fruits, nuts, raw meat, etc are their foods for living. No sexual barrier. Tribes in Australia, Africa, and Latin America used to practice till hydraulic civilization.

5. Experimental Marriage(Live in)

It is being developed in industrialized countries. during the period of the experiment, they would become acquainted and they could know each other personally. If they find a compatible personality, they may enter into a permanent knot otherwise with mutual consent. It is termed as cohabitation in a modern term. Concubine is the stage of living together as husband and wife without being married.

B. Based on Social Norms

  • Endogamy  (Sajatiya Bibaha)
  • Exogamy  Anter Jatia Bibaha)
  • Cousin Marriage (Natagat Bibaha)

1. Endogamy (Sajatiya Bibaha):

Society does not allow marriage outside the given community. Endogamy is a rule in which the life partners are to be selected within the group. It may be within the caste, class, tribe, race, village, religious group, etc.  Racial Conflict does not occur from this type. Common in each society. Thus, we have

  • Caste endogamy,
  • Class endogamy,
  • Subcaste endogamy,
  • Race endogamy,
  • Tribal endogamy and such other forms.

Example. In caste endogamy, it has to take place within the caste. Brahmin has to marry a Brahmin.

2. Exogamy Marriage (Bijatiya Bibaha):

  • Exogamy is almost the opposite of endogamy. Exogamy is a rule in which an individual has to marry outside his own group. It prohibits marrying within the group.
  • The rule of exogamy insists that the so-called blood relatives shall neither have marital connections nor sexual contacts among themselves.
    Near relatives are not supposed to marry among themselves. (But the degree of nearness differs from community to community.)
  • In Malaysia and Australia among some people, a son may marry his father’s wife if she is not his direct mother.
    Similarly, the marriage of cousins is allowed among Muslims, Nepali Gurung, Sherpa.

Forms of Exogamy

  • Gotra Exogamy. The Hindu practice of one marrying outside one’s own ‘gotra’ is gotra exogamy.
  •  Village Exogamy. Many Indian tribes (Example: Naga, Garo, Munda) have the practice of marrying outside their village.

C. Modern and Western Marriage

  • Homosexual Marriage (Samalingi Bibaha)
  • Paper Marriage (Kajagi Bibaha or Aadalati Bibaha)
  • Love Marriage (Prem Bibaha)

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