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Arranged Marriages as Support for Intra-ethnic Matchmaking? A Case Study on Muslim Migrants in Germany



This article discusses the behavioural and institutional mechanisms that guide the matchmaking process of arranged marriages1 amongst Muslim migrants in Germany and clarifies how this practice may influence ethnic homogamy. The focus is on general characteristics of arranged marriages rather than differences between diverse ethnic groups. The methodology is qualitative due to the sensitive and complex topic and the current state of research. Typically, the whole family is deeply involved in the process of arrangement, which consists of three stages (pre-engagement, engagement, marriage). Thereby, the extension of parental scope of action by means of institutionalized admission procedures turns out to be vitally important. In consideration of the fact that mate selection takes place at the pre-engagement stage, it is the most crucial. Furthermore, differences to other partner-choosing processes are at their most distinct at this point, being responsible for the identification and labelling of this model as an arranged marriage. Selection criteria are mainly determined by the reputation of the marriage candidate and her/his family along with cultural features (such as belonging to a particular religious group, ethnicity or nationality). In our study, preferences for a cultural homogenous match were the most dominant ones. This inclination may cause the tendency towards transnational marriages when there are no suitable marriage candidates to be found in Germany.