Practice Question: Write short note on : Challenges to institution of Marriage. (10 Marks) (Socio Paper 2012)

Approach: Introduction; Outline the challenges, mention the reasons, a brief preview on future of marriage as an institution; Conclusion.


According to Westermarck “It is a relation of one or more men with one or more women recognized by the law and custom having some rights and duties in case of having children”.
Horton and Hunt says “It is social system us here by two or more than two persons establish a family”. 

Monogamy restricts the individual to one spouse at a time. Under this system, at any
given time a man can have only one wife and a woman can have only one husband.
Monogamy is prevalent in all societies and is almost the universal form in all modern
industrial societies.
In many societies, individuals are permitted to marry again often on the death of the
first spouse or after divorce; but they cannot have more than one spouse at one and the , same time. Such a monogamous marriage is termed as serial monogamy. Most western
a societies practise serial monogamy.

Polygamy denotes marriage to more than one mate at one time and takes the form of
either: Polygyny (one husband with two or more wives) or Polyandry (one wife with
two or more husbands).
Prefetrential rules for the choice of wives/husbands are followed in some polygamous
societies. In certain societies males marry the wife’s sisters, and females their husband’s
brothers. Such marriages are termed as sororal polygyny and fraternal polyandry,

Endogamy and Exogamy
Endogamy requires an individual to lnarry within a culturally defined group of which
he or she is already a member, as for example, caste. Exogamy, on the other hand, the
reverse of endogamy, requires the individual to marry outside of liis/her own group.
Endogamy and exogamy are in reference to certain kinship units, such as, clan, caste
and racial, ethnic or religious groupings. In India, even village exogamy is practised in
certain parts of north India.

Hindu Marriage
The Hindu community has been giving great importance for marriage since time immemorial. There are different forms of marriage –

Brahma Vivaha is where a father marries his daughter to a learned man of good moral character.Asura Vivaha is marriage by paying bride price.
Rakshasa Vivaha is by capture or abduction without obtaining the consent of a girl or her parents.
Gandharva Vivaha is based on mutual love.
Prajapatya Vivaha is where no ceremony is performed but the groom is honoured.

Muslim Marriage
In the Muslim community marriage is universal for it discourages celibacy. Muslims call their marriage Nikah .Marriage is regarded not as a religious sacrament but as a secular bond. The bridegroom makes a proposal to the bride just before the wedding ceremony in the presence of two witnesses and a maulavi or kazi.The proposal is called ijab and its acceptance is called qubul.It is necessary that both the proposal and its acceptance must take place at the same meeting to make it a sahi Nikah.

Tribal Marriage
Marriage by exchange.
Marriage by capture is where a man forcibly marries a woman.
Marriage by intrusion is where a woman forcibly marries a man.
Marriage by probation allow a man to stay at woman place for weeks together after which if they decide to get married.
Marriage by purchase or giving b ride price. A man is required to give an agreed amount of cash/kind to the parents of the bride as price which usually varies according to the physical beauty and utility of the bride.
Marriage by service is where the man serves at his father-in-law’s house before marriage.
Marriage by trial.

1. Procreation of children
2. Sex regulation
3. Children’s socialization
4. Provide legal parents to children
5. Give economic security to women
6. Provide social security to women
7. Increase human resources
8. Establishes joint fund
9. Fulfilment of basic needs
10. Perpetuation of the lineage

Societies with traditions of plural marriages are turning towards monogamy. Due to the general improvement in the status of woman and her gradual emancipation from
the clutches of inale dominance, even in those societies where polygamy is permissible, incidence of polygamous marriages, and plurality of wives, are on the decrease. In India, tlie Hindu Marriage Act has banned both polygynous and polyandrous marriages. Even in a Muslim country like Pakistan, legislation was introduced making it necessary
for  kazi to solemnize plural marriages only if the first wife gave her written consent.

In traditional societies like India, where mate selection was entirely a prerogative of parents and elders, a dent has been made. Young men and women are increasingly being given some say in mate selection. “Dating” a practice in which a boy and a girl meet each other to get to know each other with relative freedom is a phenomenon which can be seen in different colleges and universities of predominantly metropolitan cities in India.

In India where, traditionally, child marriages were prescribed, preferred and encouraged, various efforts were made by social reformers to bring this practice to an end;
accordingly, the Child Marriage Restraint Act, popularly known as the Sarda Act, was passed in1929. However, early marriage continues, in spite of the impact of modern industrialisation and urbanisation, especially among the rural people. But with increasing enrolment of girls in schools and colleges, and their desire to take up employment, along with the problems of ‘settling down in life for the vast majority of boys, the age at marriage is perforce being pushed up.

Contemporary changes in India present us with a paradoxical situation. With greater intrusion of technology and science, it was expected that a secular-scientific outlookwould emerge and, consequently, the non-essential rituals and customs have alwayspleaded for avoiding of wasteful expenditures on meaningless customs and rituals. But observation indicates that, contrary to the expectations of enlightened people, marriages in India are tending to become more traditional insofar as the ritual-customcomplex is concerned.


Marriage is an important and universal social institution of society. As a social institution, it provides a recognised form for entering into a relatively enduring heterosexual relationship for the bearing and rearing of children. It is thus primarily a way of regulating human reproduction. This reproduction, however, also has a sociological dimension. The right of sexual relationship, that universally accompanies marriage, provides legitimisation to the children born in wedlock; this legitimacy is of great importance in the matters of inheritance and succession. Besides, through marriage there comes into existence the family, a relatively stable social group, that is responsible for the care and training of children. In all these respects, then, marriage has historically provided the institutional mechanisms necessary for replacement of social members and thereby has been meeting the important prerequisites of human survival and society’s continuance. 

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