Anthropology Essay Sample on Marriage: Anthropological Views

Posted on February 12, 2019

Anthropology is a discipline with a broad scope since it studies people and their cultures. Anthropological research regards the historical development of the culture in various nations manifesting in worldview, beliefs, customs, traditions, and rituals. Scientists often compare human beings with animals to understand the evolutionary path to the modern type of civilization. Therefore, the knowledge of Anthropology helps people to understand what it means to be a human and how complex the notion of society is. In addition, students can learn about the emergence of such institutions as religion or family in culture. The Anthropology essay sample may consider one of the core branches of the subject. It includes Biological, Cultural, Linguistic Anthropology, or Archaeology. Cultural Anthropology regards human interactions and living customs of various nations through history. Its sociocultural subfield uses qualitative data to examine the differences among cultures and factors that influence its formation. The particular paper shows the marriage from the anthropological view, its definition, types, functions as well as the examples of different rituals in the world.

‘Anthropological View of Marriage’ Essay Sample

The anthropological view of relationships is deprived of sentiments since scientists always regard it in contrast to animal mating. In ancient times, families occurred due to the fact that people formed settlements to increase the survivability of the population. Even though the modern world with its amenities allows people to stay single for the entire lifetime, individuals still prefer to live in groups. Anthropologists aim to understand the transformation of the relationships from a survival tool to pure satisfaction. Considering the traditions of weddings in different cultures, researchers managed to understand the meaning of matrimony. Marriage is a social institution that people constitute for such benefits as expanded kinship, the basis for children nurturing or financial support, though each culture imposes a specific meaning on the benefit of pairing.

Even though love is universal, there is no standard definition of marriage. Anthropologists state that the practice of wedding is distinctive in various parts of the world since people impose it a different meaning. The development of marriage roots from the nature of human beings to gather in couples and tribes to increase the probability of survival in challenging ancient times. In contrast to animals, people started to mate in a specific way creating a ritual called marriage that eventually became a basis of the society. Therefore, it is a primary social institution required for biological, mental, social, moral, and religious evolution. Sexual satisfaction is the least prioritized purpose of marriage since the number of cultures, like Australian, accept that physical contact does not constitute matrimony. At the same time, some people can form a partnership without a ceremony or contract by only being socially approved as a long-term union. Besides, wedding rituals are based on religious traditions and often require a blessing. Therefore, the ceremonies and types of marriages around the world significantly differ according to the population’s culture.

Studying cultural traditions around the world, anthropologists defined various types of matrimonies. The marriage can be a legal contract, a religious promise, or a civil union depending on the worldview of a man and a woman. It can appear between a woman and a man, two men, two women, a man, and several women, or a woman and multiple men. Having more than one legal partner is called polygamy though the majority of countries allow only monogamy – a union consisting of two people. For example, Muslim nations accept multiple families in such countries as Algeria, Cameroon, and Chad. Another form of matrimony is the group marriage in which several men live together with several women, but it is a considerably rare form that did not survive in the modern world due to its complexity. Also, symbolic marriage is a type that does not implies economic or social interconnection of partners. Each example of the union reflects the values and beliefs of the spouses. Therefore, scientists can judge upon the worldview of the person considering the individual’s attitude to mating.

Additionally, anthropologists defined functions of marriage or the benefits that spouses can reap by pairing. Firstly, it helps individuals to control sexual behavior and promote the growth of the population. However, physical fidelity is not always a sign of marital happiness and love. For instance, Filipino traditions allow a man to choose a mistress if his wife cannot have children. Moreover, the intercourse with other women is institutionalized so that the woman can help her husband to find another female who would bear him children. Secondly, people marry for the benefit of economic growth and wealth. It is considerably easier to amass the fortune working together and sharing the dwelling, alimentation, and household objects. Thirdly, the family is a useful framework for upbringing children and creating kinship groups. Educating in the family circle, offspring can learn about the culture of their nation and understand the moral foundations. Hence, anthropologists consider the value that the person imposes on the marital union, as well as its type to determine the entire perception of the nation. Considering wedding rituals, people can get acquainted with the culture of the country and its religion.

The Islamic faith is one of the most spread religions in the world. Muslim people honor their traditions and follow the holy rules of wedding starting from preparation. Two days before the ceremony, the bride accompanied by her closest female friends and relatives hold the Henna Party. Family adores the body of the woman with Henna for aesthetic and protective functions. According to Muslim belief, drawn patterns can contribute marital bliss and fertility. Male friends and family of the couple also prepare for the ceremony. On the nearest Friday after the proposal, men meet at the mosque to conduct a ritual called Fatha. In this way, the bride and the groom stay separate before the ceremony. In addition, Muslim people do not invite a specific officiant to perform the celebration. To ensure the security of the bride, the groom determines the amount of money that he can give to her and describes it in the contract called the Meher. Later, the couple signs the marriage arrangement named the Nikah and shares a piece of sweet fruit. To conclude the ceremony, the attendees read the first chapter of the Qur’an to bless their religious heritage. In general, this beautiful event reveals the values and beliefs of the Islamic faith.

Judaism is the oldest monotheistic religion that has numerous followers in the world. The time that the couple devotes to preparing for the wedding is also a part of the entire ritual. Once a man and a woman are engaged, they conduct a party called L’chaim. To make the agreement more concrete, the relatives of the bride and the broom officially seal the deal and symbolically mark it by breaking a plate. In contrast to Muslim traditions, Jewish families have to find a person who will perform the ceremony. Besides, the close relatives of the broom decorate hands of the bride with Henna. The groom can visit a ritual bath named mikveh a few days before the ceremony. Jewish couple does not only stays separate but also finds a person who will check that the lovers do not meet secretly and devote this time for meaningful reflection. On the day of the wedding, the point of signing a Ketubah is the most significant moment. It is a legally binding contract stating that the broom now acquires the bride and determines the monetary amount that the husband should pay in case of divorce. Then, the couple exchanges rings as a symbol of the created kinship. The celebration may include a wide range of activities that depend on the heritage of a particular family.

To sum up, marriage as a social institution has significantly transformed from ancient times and partially changed its functions. Also, the meaning of the matrimony is different not only with regard to the culture but also to the worldview of the individual. The modern world accepts two common types of unions – polygamy or monogamy. Forming a family, individuals aim to control their sexual behavior, ensure financial stability, or create a base for growing children. The two examples of ceremonies show that the wedding always consists of separate parts in which the preparation is equally important as the point of agreement. In addition, the event is indivisibly connected with the whole family, not only the engaged man and woman. Therefore, anthropologists can examine the functioning of a particular social institution by visiting ceremonies all over the world and mentioning their distinctive features.

Post-writing Tips

This sample of the Anthropology essay corresponds to the sociocultural branch of Anthropology. It describes the marriage at the anthropological lens and its definition. The work consists of three main parts: introduction, main body, and conclusion. Each section of Anthropology essay example is devoted to the particular theme and has its aim. The introduction helps the reader to recognize the components of the presented paper. Plus, it provides background information necessary for the understanding of the theme. The thesis statement reveals the core idea that develops the essence of the essay. The main body includes five paragraphs that respectively show the definition of marriage, its types, functions, the example of Muslim, and Jewish wedding ceremonies. The concluding part of the writing restates the thesis statement and each significant finding of the research. I hope that this well-defined essay was useful and helped to understand the subject better.

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