Cultural Variation in Relationships

  • Created by: Rebecca
  • Created on: 10-05-15 21:50

Arranged and Love Marriage

Romantic Love is viewed by Pinker (2008) as a 'human universal' that's evolved to promote survival and reproduction, however for this to be true it needs to be found across all cultures.

Arranged is the most common form of marriage, only 6 out of 42 societies give complete freedom. Moghaddam et al (1998) found relationships in western cultures tend to be individualistic, voluntary and temporary whereas non-western tend to be collectivist, involuntary and permanent. Western cultures are more urban and have greater geographical and social mobility comparent to non-western - relationships tend to be tied to family or economic resources. Arranged marriage makes sense as you may never meet 'the one'. Divorce rates are low and in perhaps half of them the spouses report they've fallen in love (Epstein, 2002). Myers et al (2005) even found no difference in happiness between arranged and love marriage. In China before 1949 70% of parents decided but by the 1990's this was just 10%. As well as this divorce rates amongst arranged couples are on the rise showing personal freedom is gaining importance.

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  • Western emphasise change and discontinuity whereas non-western cultures view change with suspicion. This difference is reflected in relationships with western being temporary and non-western permanent.
  • However high divorce rates in western societies are a relatively new occurance, prior to 1960 only 2 out of 1000 women got divorced compared to 12 out of 1000 in 1982.
  • Betzig (1996) studied divorce in 160 cultures and found the most common reasons for divorce were; infidelity, sterility and cruelty.
  • In China divorce rates are still low as it comes with great shame and in Saudia Arabia they can only divorce if it's previously stated in the marriage agreement and they must move back to their parents, the man keeps the children.
  • Increases in divorce are being put down to increased social and geographical mobility, more rights for women and more gender equality.
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  • Relationships are a very sensitive topic to study, some people don't want to disclose personal and potentially upsetting information. In Myers study for example people may have been unwilling to admit to being unhappy in their marriage.
  • Another issue is that arranged marriage is often misunderstood as forced marriage when infact they still play a part in choosing their partner.
  • The differnce between arranged and love marriage is simplified, often family in western societies still have a certain influence over their children's choice.
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