Consanguineous marriage in the Arab societies
AuthorAl-Ghanim, Kaltham Ali
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Endogamous and consanguineous marriage is estimated to comprise 20% of all marriages in the contemporary world. In Arabia, however, it is estimated to characterize approximately half of all marriages. Overall, this is thought to reflect the cultural legacy of the identity central to the Arab family, and the underlying value system associated with identity bound to one’s descent group. In much social theory, urbanization is envisioned as a game-changing variable: once in the urban environment, groups practicing consanguineous marriage, produced as it is by environmental and economic factors endemic to rural regions, would assimilate to new social practices and abandon consanguineous marriage. The evidence in the Gulf is clear, however, that these practices persevere in Qatar and the other Gulf States. They remain a socially legitimate practice, and urbanization is not a significant factor in shaping this practice. In other words, preferences for endogamous marriage, for the appropriate age of marriage, as well as for the number and gender of offspring, remain in line with the traditions of the region. This suggests that urbanization is not a universal indicator of changes to practices, like marriage partner selection, that run deep in the social fabric.
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