FAMILY IN INDIA AND NORTH AMERICA || Social and Demographic Correlates of Consanguineous Marriages in South India

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<ul><li><p>Social and Demographic Correlates of Consanguineous Marriages in South IndiaAuthor(s): EDWIN D. DRIVER and ALOO E. DRIVERSource: Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, FAMILY IN INDIA AND NORTHAMERICA (SUMMER 1988), pp. 229-244Published by: Dr. George KurianStable URL: .Accessed: 28/06/2014 09:10</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p> .</p><p>Dr. George Kurian is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal ofComparative Family Studies.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 09:10:44 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>Social and Demographic Correlates of </p><p>Consanguineous Marriages in South India </p><p>EDWIN D. DRIVER* and ALOO E. DRIVER** </p><p>Research on kinship organization in south India has been done for over 100 </p><p>years, involving such renown anthropologists as Morgan, Rivers, Hocart, Dumont, Leach, and Tambiah (Good 1980: 476). The complexities of kinship organization in south India and how it uniquely differs from kinship organization elsewhere in India or in other societies is still being revealed by researchers. Marriage, one of the* institutions of kinship organization, is often the reference in discussions of this </p><p>uniqueness. This is expressed in part by a scholar, renown for her expertise on kin- </p><p>ship in India, as follows (Karve 1965: 250-52): </p><p>The Dravidian kinship organization is... fundamentally different from that of the northern zone... Marriage strengthens existing bonds. The emphasis is on </p><p>knitting families together and narrowing the circle of the kin-group, a policy exactly opposite of the one followed in the north. The whole tone of southern society is different. The south represents the principle of immediate exchange, a policy of consoli- dation, a, clustering of kin groups in a narrow area, no sharp distinction bet- ween kin by blood and kin by marriage... </p><p>The principle and policies mentioned by Karve are implicit in the rules and </p><p>preferences which most castes in the South say ought to govern who marries whom. These preferences, if not their rank-order, are rather clearly defined (Beals 1974: 119; Chekki 1974: 94; Good 1980: 474-75; Karve 1965: 218, 220, 222; Mencher 1966: 164). The usual, first preference is for a marriage between a man and his elder sister's daughter (or, conversely, between a woman and her mother's </p><p>brother). The usual, second preference is for a marriage between a man and his father's sister's daughter (or, conversely, between a woman and her mother's brother's son). The usual, third preference is for a marriage between a man and his mother's brother's daugher (or, conversely, between a woman and her father's sis- ter's son). The expression, in behavior, of these preferences serves to insure that the other aspects of kinship organization such as clan exogamy and the age grada- tion of relationships are preserved. In the words of Karve (1965: 250-51): </p><p>Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 003, U.S.A. </p><p>"Department of Sociology, American International College, Springfield, Massachusetts 01003, U.S.A. Vol. XIX, No. 2 (Summer 1988) </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 09:10:44 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>230 Journal of Comparative Family Studies </p><p>In the Dravidian kinship organization... the kin in the immediate family is ar- ranged not according to generations sbut according to age categories of 'older than ego' and 'younger than ego'. Marriage is outside the exogamous clan cal- led balli or bedagu or kilai, which have similarities to totemistic clans. Ex- change of daughters is favored... The rules for marriage... are: (1) One must not marry a member of one's own clan. (2) A girl must marry a person who belongs to the group "older than self - tam-muri' and also the group "younger than the parents". Therefore she can marry any of her older cross- cousins, as also the younger brother of her mother. </p><p>While there have been extensive studies and construction of theories about kinship rules, preferences, and terminology by Karve (1965) and others (see Chekki 1974: 91-94; Good 1980; Rao 1973), much less attention has been given to the actual patterns of marriage in South India. The few studies done suggest that (a) the actual patterns tend to conform with the rules and preferences as closely as might be expected, given the effects of birth rates and death rates on the availability of preferred kin (Conklin 1973: 55), and (b) that the frequency of consanguineous marriages in south India far exceeds the number reported in studies of marriages done elsewhere in or outside of India (Rao and Inbaraj 1977: 281). </p><p>PURPOSE AND METHODOLOGY </p><p>The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of consanguineous mar- riages in South India and to compare our findings with those of other studies of this area. We focus on the demographic and social antecedents and consequences of consanguineous and non-consanguineos marriages in a metropolitan area. The an- tecedents include the facts of marriage (arrangement, ages of the brides and grooms, degree of kinship between brides and grooms), occupations of the parents, and the social class and caste of the families. The consequences are the demog- raphic variables of fertility, infant and child mortality, and family structure and size. </p><p>Data for this study are derived from a larger study of social stratification in south India (Driver and Driver 1986), wherein interviews were held with a stratified, random sample of the heads of households (or their spouses) for persons resident in 1966 in metropolitan Madras. Virtually all of the 463 households initially selected and located were found to be responsive to an interview. This paper is based on the 400 households where the spouse of the head of the household had an unbroken, first marriage, and where the interviewee provided the information needed for this paper. </p><p>The interview questions provided for open-ended rather than pre-categorized answers. Thus, each interviewee had to mentally formulate and verbally express in her or his own words (in English, Tamil, Telugu, or whatever was the primary lan- guage of the household) information about the marriage, social and demographic characteristics for selves and parents, and how they identified themselves with re- gard to social class and caste. These open-ended responses were placed in sets of </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 09:10:44 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>Social and Demographic Correlates of Consanguineous Marriages in South India 231 </p><p>categories, numerous enough to highlight important social differentiations and yet not so numerous as to obviate meaningful comparisons between consanguineous and non-consanguineous marriages. </p><p>FINDINGS </p><p>Facts of the marriage. The number and per cent of marriages which were un- </p><p>equivocably consanguineous are shown in Table 1. Altogether 34 per cent were </p><p>consanguineous. Within this category, the most frequent subtype is one which un- ites a woman with her mother's brother (or, conversely, a man with his sister's daughter). Second in frequency is the union of a woman with her mother's brother's son (or, conversely, a man with his father's sister's daughter). These and all other marriages of so-called "first cousins" appear to involve only cross-cousins and never parallel cousins, which conforms to the rules and preferences mentioned </p><p>by Karve and others. Of the non-consanguineous marriages, there are several un- ions defined initially by our interviewees as terminological kin but not as consan- </p><p>guineous, i.e., blood, kin. Given the fact that persons in South India sometimes are kin to others in more than one way, it may be that these initial responses would have been supplemented to reveal some ties of consanguinity between mates, ahd we probed further. </p><p>Table 1 DEGREE AND KIND OF CONSANGUINITY BETWEEN GROOM AND BRIDE: BY NUMBER AND PER CENT </p><p>Kinship of Groom to Bride Number Per Cent Two degrees removed (uncle) </p><p>Mo Bro 42 10 Three degrees removed (1st cousin) </p><p>Mo Bro Son 19 5 Fa Si Son 35 9 Unspecified 4 1 </p><p>Four degrees removed (2nd cousin) 4 1 Over four degrees removed 32 8 </p><p>subtotal 136 34 Non-kin socially related (e.g., Si Hu Bro, Mo Bro Wi Bro, Mo Si Da Husb Bro) 13 3 not socially related 250 63 subtotal 263 66 </p><p>Total 399 100 </p><p>Our data, which permit only a cross-sectional analysis of trends, do not reveal any clear-cut trend for consanguineous unions. In Table 2, starting with the earliest marriage cohorts (i.e., women aged 45 years or more),1 one observes that the per </p><p>*We have equated age categories with marital cohorts, recognizing that some women in different age categories belong to the same marriage cohort. It is unlikely, however, that there is much such overlap, given that the ages of nuptials for each age category are about the same. </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 09:10:44 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>232 Journal of Comparative Family Studies </p><p>cent of consanguineous marriages fluctuates up and down over the four, broad cohorts. </p><p> 2 FREQUENCY OF KIN (CONSANGUINEOUS) MARRIAGES OVER TIME </p><p>Kinship Per Cent by Present Ages of Wives (in years) of Groom to Bride </p><p>Under 25 25-34 35-44 45+ Total (n=) (83) (141) (108) (65) (397) </p><p>MoBro 12 14 6 9 10 1st cousin 8 16 11 25 15 Distant kin 4 9 10 12 9 subtotal 24 39 27 4 34 Non-kin 76 61 73 54 66 </p><p>Total 100 100 100 100 100 </p><p>The arrangement of all marriages is shown in Table 3. Arrangements are most often made by th elders of the kin group but are finalized after the potential bride and groom give their approval. What distinguishes consanguineous marriages from non-consanguineous marriages is the frequency by which elders finalize contracts without seeking the approval of the bride and groom. Thus, while consanguineous unions constitute 34 per cent of the total unions, they constitute 54 per cent of the unions arranged by the elders without the approval of the bride and groom. This acting without consulting occurs mainly when the union involves close kin rather than distant kin. </p><p>Table 3 ARRANGEMENT AND APPROVAL OF MARRIAGES OF SPOUSES BY KINFOLK </p><p>Kinship Per Cent of Groom to Bride Arrangement by Kinfoik Arrangement by Spouses Total </p><p>without with with without approval approval approval approval </p><p>of of of of spouses spouses kinfoik kinfoik </p><p>(n=) (58) (255) (43) (27) (383) MoBro 19 9 2 7 10 1st cousin 26 14 7 15 15 Distant kin 9 9 12 - 9 </p><p>subtotal 54 32 21 22 34 Non-kin 46 68 79 78 66 Total 100 100 100 100 100 </p><p>Our evidence suggests that arranged marriages have not declined over the years. The per cent of the total marriages arrnged by the elders, with or without approval of the bride and g Poo m , is about the same for all of the marriage cohorts (expressed as age groups). </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 09:10:44 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>Social and Demographic Correlates of Consanguineous Marriages in South India 233 Table 4 FREQUENCY OF ARRANGED MARRIAGES OVER TIME </p><p>Per Cent by Present Ages of Wives (in years) </p><p>Under 25 25-34 35-44 45+ Total (n=) (83) (137) (99) (63) (382) </p><p>By Kinfolk without approval of spouses 16 10 14 27 15 with approval of spouses 68 68 70 57 67 </p><p>By Spouses with approval of kinfolk 6 14 12 11 11 without approval of kinfolk 10 8 4 5 7 </p><p>Total 100 100 100 100 100 </p><p>The ages at which marriages occur in South India may be defined by the date of the contract (arrangement), the date of the nuptials, or the date of consumma- tion. For our data, these dates are very close together. The median ages (in years) for contract, nuptials, and consummation for brides are, respectively, 18.3, 18.4 and 18.5; these ages (in years) for th grooms are, respectively, 26.6, 26.7, and 26.8. These general medians are almost identical to the medians for each marriage cohort; in effect, ages at marriage have remained rather stable over time. </p><p>The relationship between ages at nuptials for brides and grooms, by type of marriage, are shown in Table 5. There is a tendency for marriages to occur at younger ages for consanguineous unions (medians of 17.7 years for brides and 26.2 years for grooms) than for non-consanguineous unions (medians of 18.8 years for brides and 26.9 years for grooms). Within the consanguineous category, brides who are close kin to^ the grooms marry earlier than do brides who are distant kin to the grooms, their respective medians being 17.3 years and 19.1 years. </p><p>Analysis of the specific ages at which brides and grooms married shows a wide range of age differences between certain mates. At one extreme, there was a bride who was two years older than her groom, and there were eight brides who were equal in age to their grooms. At the other extreme, there were two brides who were thirty years younger, and there were seven brides who were twenty to twenty-three years younger, than their grooms. In some of these cases of extreme differences, the bride who was in her first marriage had been married to a man who had been previously married for many years. </p><p>Social antecedents and correlates. Consanguineous and non-consanguineous marriages are compared in terms of traits which precede nuptials and apply to their immediate kin (especially parents). These very same traits also apply to the married pair throughout their lifetime. The traits are ancestral home, occupations of the fathers of bride and groom, and caste and social class. By Table 6, consanguineous and non-consanguineous marriages are not distinguished by their frequencies of brides, grooms, or brides and grooms, who were born in the place where they now </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 09:10:44 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>Table 5 INTERRELATIONS BETWEEN BRIDE'S AGE AT NUPTIALS AND GROOM'S AGE AT NUPTIALS. BY TYPE OF MARRIAGE </p><p>K...</p></li></ul>