This fascinating symposium is based on an assumption that no longer seems to need justification: that the institution of marriage is today experiencing profound changes. But the nature of those changes—their causes and consequences—is very much in need of explication. The experts contributing to this volume bring a wide range of perspectives—sociological, anthropological, economic, historical, psychological, and legal—to the problem of marriage in modern society. Together these essays help illuminate a form of relationship that is both vulnerable and resilient, biological and social, a reflection of and an influence on other social institutions.
Contemporary Marriage begins with an important assessment of the revolution in marital behavior since World War II, tracing trends in marriage age, cohabitation, divorce, and fertility. The focus here is primarily on the United States and on idustrial societies in general. Later chapters provide intriguing case studies of particular countries. There is a recurrent interest in the impact on marriage of modernization itself, but a number of essays probe influences other than industrial development, such as strong cultural and historical patterns or legislation and state control. Beliefs and expectations about marriage are explored, and human sexuality and gender roles are also considered as factors in the nature of marriage.
Contemporary Marriage offers a rich spectrum of approaches to a problem of central importance. The volume will reward an equally broad spectrum of readers interested in the meaning and future of marriage in our society.