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Schemas of Marital Change: From Arranged Marriages to Eloping for Love


Department of Sociology, 702 S. Wright St., Urbana, IL 61801 (


In recent decades, arranged marriages have become less common in many parts of Asia. This paper explores people's schemas surrounding just such a marital change in one Indian village using semi-structured interviews (N = 30) and ethnographic fieldwork. Respondents categorize marriages into two main types: arranged marriages and elopements, also called love marriages. Arranged marriages were common in the past, while elopements are now dominant. Both types of marriages have characteristics that are perceived positively and the ideal marriage is a hybrid of the two. Respondents ascribe the rise of love marriages to educational expansion, technological change, and foreign influence. Many also see it as an inevitable part of a larger process of socioeconomic change. These schemas are strongly shaped by global influences, but also reflect multiple layers of local beliefs and cultures. The schemas also demonstrate a complex integration of both structural and ideational factors in accounting for marital change.

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