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Woman's Social Status and the Forms of Marriage

Marvin K. Opler
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 49, No. 2 (Sep., 1943), pp. 125-148
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2770359
Page Count: 24
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Woman's Social Status and the Forms of Marriage
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Abstract

The study of relationships between woman's social status and the forms of marriage brings into sharp contrast the position of sociologists commenting on the present and certain classical evolutionary anthropologists theorizing on the early history of marital institutions. Concerning the forms of marriage, much of our present-day terminology goes back to a pseudo-evolutionist, J. F. McLennan, and to an anti-evolutionist, Edward Westermarck. The limitations and bias of both are discussed below. More recent field work throws new light on the ancient controversies and suggests that a revision is in order both in terminology and in thinking if objectivity and realism are to be preserved. The data suggest that woman's social status and the sexual role accorded her in society are related facts which find expression in the rules and attitudes governing marital and extra-marital relations.

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