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Endogamy ( ancient Greek ἔνδον éndon , German 'inside' and gámos 'wedding' : " internal marriage") describes a marriage order in ethnosociology that prefers or prescribes marriages within one's own social group , community or social category; the partner is, for example, the same parentage or ethnic group , religious community or social class belong. The opposite is exogamy , in which people or should marry outside their own community, for example in societies with a two-part moiety system . Both rules are based on the respective moral , religious or legal conceptions of one's own and that of the other group and which groups marriageable persons belong to.

Like all rules of marriage, endogamy can act as an expected expectation (preferential) or as a prescribed norm (prescriptive). If there is a strict requirement of endogamy , marriages outside of one's own local, economic, political, religious or ethnic community are not tolerated and may be punished with exclusion from the group. Such prohibitions on marriage do not have to refer to sexual contacts between unmarried members and members of other groups. Isogamy is its own form of endogamy as the preferred marriage connection of partners with the same social status, i.e. within the same class, class or caste.

Endogamous marriage rules can be found worldwide in many immigrant groups who only marry each other, as well as in many ethnic and indigenous peoples in the form of cross-cousin or parallel cousin marriages (see the Bintʿamm marriage ). Together with endogamous provisions, there are usually (subordinate) exogamous marriage rules that often relate to a common ancestry: While the spouse should come from the same social group, he may not belong to the same subgroup, for example he should be of his own religion, but don't belong to your own clan .

Reasons for endogamy

The reasons for the triggering endogamy are different: It can be geographically determined, for example if a population lives largely isolated on an island for a long time. Well-known examples of this are the Icelanders , the inhabitants of some islands in Croatia , inhabitants of the American island Martha's Vineyard , the French island of Réunion , Tristan da Cunha , the Norfolk Island and Cape Verde .

Geographically isolated populations can also occur in remote areas outside of islands and accordingly have a higher frequency of hereditary diseases . Examples of this exist in northern Sweden and Finland, Saudi Arabia , Lebanon , Israel , Poland , Switzerland , Italy , Pakistan , India , Iran , Tunisia , Brazil and the Netherlands , among others .

In the past, religious affiliation often defined the possible marriage space (“relative endogamy”). There were exceptions, especially on the edge of endogamous spaces. Even today there are religious reasons for endogamy among members of religions with a limited number of followers, a negligibly small number of converts and a taboo against marrying people who do not belong to the same religion ( ethnic-religious groups ). The hereditary diseases, which statistically occur more frequently as a result of endogamy, have so far been researched best among the Amish , traditionally living Mennonites (such as the Old Mennonites ) and Hutterites, as well as with Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews .

Finally, endogamy can also be culturally determined, for example within a language group with relatively few speakers and little mixing with surrounding language groups. Examples of such cultural groups with endogamous hereditary diseases are the Basques in France and Spain , a Turkish population in the Netherlands, and the French-speaking Canadians in Quebec .

In contrast, Christianity , which is dependent on growth through mission, has - probably also due to the rapid urbanization and population mixing of late antiquity - radicalized the exogamy commandment beginning with Ambrosius of Milan and Augustine of Hippo and gradually expanded the prohibition of endogamy until it was in the 11th century until the 7th century. Degree according to the Roman counting method and thus practically no longer feasible.

Social importance

Endogamy strengthens group cohesion (the we-feeling ) and the demarcation from the outside world (see also social homophilia ). Last but not least, endogamy secures the common, kinship power of disposal over social and material resources (e.g. land ownership), which is why the upper classes tend to it. It can be found as social endogamy, mostly as a transitional phenomenon, especially among immigrant groups . Endogamy protects minorities from being absorbed in majority societies or in an environment with different social practices and beliefs. While endogamous marriage in societies with caste systems or comparable traditions makes it easier to classify a group in the overall social structure , endogamy protects minority groups in other societies from hostility by preventing group competition by dividing the marriage market .

Asymmetric endogamy

Many social groups and communities follow an asymmetrical (unequal) endogamy: While endogamous marriage is prescribed for certain group members within their own group, other members are also allowed to marry exo gam , outside their own community. In such cases, the rules of marriage are often differentiated according to sex (see anisogamy , gender segregation ). So have Muslim the right to female members of other men religious communities to marry, whereas Muslims mostly denied. According to the Jewish religious laws ( Halacha ), Jews are only allowed to marry someone who either has a Jewish mother (religious affiliation via matrilineal descent ) or who has converted to the Jewish religion.

Preferred and prescribed endogamy

From the widespread habit that many people tend to marry members of their own social group (preferred, preferential or social endogamy), the explicit rules of marriage of different groups that practice endogamy in a particularly strict manner differ (prescribed, prescriptive or strict endogamy).

In social endogamy, the transitions between group commitment, group members' habits, and natural coincidence within the group are fluid (members of the same social community meet more often and share common beliefs and habits).

Communities in which strict endogamy is practiced traditionally , morally , religiously or legally require their members to marry only within their own group, class or religion. The caste system in India is an overarching system of order (largely) endogamous communities that may / should only marry in the same group.

Extreme forms of endogamy even prescribe a marriage between close relatives (for example with the Bint ʿamm , the daughter of the father brother). As in all small endogamous groups, problems can arise from incest (see hereditary diseases in endogamous populations ); on the other hand, such strict endogamy can help to secure or develop one's own genetic or phenotypic characteristics. In more recent anthropology , the view is held that numerous genetic / phenotypic differences between (small) ethnic groups are not primarily due to environmental effects, but originally to special preferences when choosing a partner in small, self-contained groups.

Examples of strictly endogamous groups

Examples of strictly endogamous groups are the Yazidis from Northern Iraq (under Islamic dominance), some Jewish communities, the Parsees in India / Mumbai (under Hindu dominance) and many Jatis from the Indian caste system. The European nobility of the past can also be seen as a strictly endogamous group, because marriage according to one's status was largely prescribed for members of the nobility or for individual nobility ranks (see also isogamy : marriage in the same social class).

Categorical and Structural Endogamy

Network analytical research differentiates between categorical and structural endogamy:

  • Categorical endogamy exists when the pairings that are relevant for reproduction take place among people, which can be determined by their characteristics such as nationality, ethnic affiliation, social class or class , regional affiliation or religion.
  • Structural endogamy exists when a genealogical network (i.e. the web of ancestry references) contains a maximal subgroup of families, the pairs of which are all connected by more than one fully delineated line of kinship or ancestry.

Examples of structural endogamy are the nomadic people of the Yörüken in southeastern Turkey and the marriage with the Bint ʿamm (daughter of the father brother, a parallel cousin), which is widespread in the Arab and also in the Islamic cultural area .

See also


Newest first:

  • Renate Otto-Walter: Endogamy - Exogamy. In: Werner Fuchs-Heinritz u. a. (Ed.): Lexicon for Sociology. 4th edition. Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-16602-5 , p. 161.
  • Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim : Transnational marriage patterns and transnational marriage strategies. An explanatory approach to migrants' choice of partner. In: social world. Vol. 56, 2006, pp. 111-129, ISSN  0038-6073 ; social-welt.nomos.de (PDF; 141 kB; 19 pages) on social-welt.nomos.de.
  • Thomas Klein (ed.): Choice of partner and marriage pattern. Social structural requirements of love. Leske and Budrich, Opladen 2001, ISBN 3-8100-2874-6 .
  • Ulrike Davis-Sulikowski a. a. (Ed.): Body, Religion and Power. Social Anthropology of Gender Relations. Campus, Frankfurt / New York 2001, ISBN 3-593-36881-1 .
  • Wolfgang Teckenberg: Who marries whom? Social structure and choice of partner. Leske Budrich, Opladen 2000, ISBN 3-8100-2541-0 ( habilitation thesis , University of Heidelberg 1999)
  • Max Cohn : Marriage Law. In: Ismar Elbogen u. a. (Ed.): Jewish Lexicon. An encyclopedic manual of Jewish knowledge in four volumes. 2nd Edition. Volume 2, Athenäum, Frankfurt 1987, ISBN 3-610-00400-2 (reprint of the Berlin 1928-30 edition).
  • Endogamy . In: Encyclopædia Britannica . 11th edition. tape 9 : Edwardes - Evangelical Association . London 1910, p. 383 (English, full text [ Wikisource ] - some examples).

Web links

Wiktionary: Endogamy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Gabriele Rasuly-Paleczek: Forms of marriage, marriage rules and goods transactions related to marriage. (PDF; 853 kB) In: Introduction to the forms of social organization. Part 3/5, Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Vienna, 2011, pp. 99–105 , archived from the original on October 17, 2013 (52 pages; documents for your lecture in the 2011 summer semester).;
  • Helmut Lukas, Vera Schindler, Johann Stockinger: Endogamy. In: Online Interactive Glossary: ​​Marriage, Marriage, and Family. Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Vienna, 1997 (detailed notes, with references).;
  • Brian Schwimmer: Endogamy. In: Tutorial: Kinship and Social Organization. Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, Canada, 2003 (English, extensive kinship tutorial).;

Individual evidence

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