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Marriage In The Western European Society

686 words - 3 pages

Marriage in the Western European Society

Without exception marriage is a human social construct. The animal
kingdom does appear to have a number of species that appear to mate
for life but the term marriage implies a formal commitment requiring
ceremony, social obligations and rights. There are also very many
cultural differences around the world in what is perceived to be
“marriage”. However, without exception all cultures do have an
understanding of the term, have obligations and benefits to marriage,
most especially for men. We shall, for the purpose of this essay, only
explore Western European society.

The last fifty or so years have seen massive changes to many of the
social structures and institutions. Many of the formal obligations and
requirements placed on individuals have been liberalised and a greater
emphasis is placed on the rights of the individual to self-expression
and freedom of social movement. Included in this fast social shift is
the concept of marriage. The social and legal benefits of marriage
were only open to heterosexual couples. It was extremely rare for
couples to divorce or formally separate. Marriage was considered to
been the norm and was often governed by unwritten rules and
obligations as well as legal protection and benefits. As mentioned,
marriage has also been seen to be of most benefit to men and until
recently women had few or no rights with regard to their say within
the marriage and of no consequence within the law.

Formal institutions such as governments, the legal system and the
church still favour heterosexual marriage and still place certain
benefits to married couples. The legal system has moved forward and
has now started to recognise equality to both couples in most areas,
with the...

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