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Marriage Patterns

Marriage Patterns

Author: Paul Hannan

Differentiate between endogamy, exogamy, monogamy, polygamy, and homogamy in relationships.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain, Images from, Public Domain

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome this episode of Sociology-- Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on marriage patterns. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind, or even fast forward to make sure you get the most out of this tutorial.

So today we're going to be looking at some basic terminology for marriage patterns. So now, let's see. Let's get these two ready for marriage, OK.

So types of marriages. The first one we're going to look at is endogamy. Now, this is a marriage within the same class, within the same social unit or ethnic group. It's when you're trying to have a marriage-- not trying. When you have a marriage that is keeping people together. And you're marrying within the same group.

This is really prominent in societies that are trying to keep strong traditions. And these kind of marriages do keep strong traditions because you're keeping people within the same group. And so that same group is married in the same group. So the similarities continue being passed on.

Something very similar to that is homogamy. This is a type of marriage between two people who are similar.

So homogamy and endogamy, those two terms are very similar. But really the difference is endogamy is looking at similarities between groups more. And homogamy can be either broader or more narrow. But it's not focusing just on the social group, the social unit that these people are part of.

Now, on the other side of that, if you marry someone that's from outside your group, that's different from you are, that is exogamy. So this is a marriage that really spreads ideas. If you have two people who come from different backgrounds and they get married, those connections and those relationships of these two groups coming together, well, that's going to help spread understanding and help spread ideas. You'll see this type of marriage in societies and cultures that really value this interchange of ideas.

So it might be as simple as a marriage between people from two different villages. That is exogamy. It is merging with someone outside your social unit. That can help bring people together and help spread understanding.

Another way to look at type of marriages is just how many people you're marrying. So monogamy is a relationship between solely two people. Traditionally, in the United States America we think of marriage as monogamy.

Now, there is also polygamy. Now, polygamy is when you have multiple partners. Now, polygamy can happen between males or females. But it's much more prominent to have one shingle male and multiple female partners.

Now, there are some arguments on why this is. Some of it has to do with gender conflicts, issues that in most societies around the world men have more power. Another one is biologically a female could only be pregnant with one child at a time, whereas a male can father many children with different women at one time.

Now, I think it's important to note that sociology is not defining marriage the same way that you might see it being defined in a political arena. All the relationship definitions here, all these types of marriages, are really gender, almost neutral you could say.

Gay marriage. Sociology isn't really trying to define marriage as gay marriage being right or wrong. Instead, it'll be looking at gay marriage and how that institution works and how those interactions work. And maybe based on a different approach would have different kind of ways of looking at gay marriage. But sociology is not trying to define marriage as one simple way of looking at marriage, putting really value on this one type of marriage is better or worse than other types of marriages.

So today's take-away message, we learned about endogamy, which is marriage within the same ethnic group or social units, and exogamy, which is marriage outside a group, outside your group. Monogamy is a relationship between two people. And polygamy is a relationship between multiple partners. We also learn about homogamy. And that's a marriage between two people who are very similar.

Well, that's it for this lesson. Good work. And hopefully you'll be seeing me on the screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know

A marriage norm requiring someone to marry a person from inside his or her group.


A marriage norm requiring a person to marry someone from outside his or her group.


A marriage between two people who are socially and culturally similar.


A marriage between two people exclusively.


A marriage to multiple people at the same time.