Life in Possum Holler

Saline County, Arkansas, United States
See my website at

14 July 2008

angels in marble: Marriage and its Purposes

angels in marble: Marriage and its Purposes

Monday, 14 July 2008 by Hatfield Girl

Marriage and its Purposes
Contrary to romanticist vulgarisation, marriage does not either yield lifelong love and partnership, nor does it exclude such a relationship. Marriage is a contractual, social mechanism that povides the weft to the warp of kinship systems.

Italians, which really means Roman law, say always that we know who our mother is. Fathers are socially determined. Whatever web of kinship used to shape a society, men are invariably associated within it by social categorisation. Supposed to marry your mother's brother's son? Then that is where your husband (in the sense of recognized father of the familial descendant generation) will be located. Sometimes he might even be that, but more usually that is just a part of his socially ascribed role.

Essentially, groups of men exchange women (and, variously, associated property), in the interest of maintaining their command of that most fundamental economic good, human reproduction. The next generation is ultimate wealth.

Women resent this. Well, you would, wouldn't you? Dress it up any way you like, kinship groups, dominated by males, exchange women. They do so because exchange generates society, and from social order springs power that is institutionally embedded, rather than constantly reasserted by force of arms. . . . [Click link for remainder of blog entry]