In her book Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage,' Stephanie Coontz looks at the institution of marriage across the world. It is Coontz view that marriage is changing drastically across the world. She believes that various marital practices and behavior in marriage may remain unchanged, but marriage itself is changing. She identifies that marriage is becoming fragile everywhere, relationships between men and women are experiencing rapid and sometimes traumatic changes and everywhere the link that existed between marriage and rearing children is slowly fading away. With all the issues surrounding marriage Coontz identifies a central argument on which she bases her book.
The main argument in the books is that nothing in marriage especially its place in society and the relationship between husbands and wife has remained the same. Her thought is that particular marital practices or behavior may not have changed over time, but the arrangements, forms, and values are changing dramatically across the world. In her opinion, the aspects that used to characterize marriage before are now changing. For example, she believes that marriage is now turning out to be more optional and fragile. She also feels that the predictable link that existed between marriage and bringing up children is slowly fraying. Coontz observes that the relationship between men and women has changed drastically in the past thirty years than it did in the previous three thousand years and that marriage is following the same course. Even as she focuses on the changes taking place within marriage Coontz believes that the institution is in a crisis.
The empirical claim by Coontz is that almost everywhere across the world people are worried that the marriage institution is in a crisis. She bolsters her claim with evidence including that the United Nations recently launched a campaign to raise the age of marriage especially for girls in Afghanistan, Africa, and India because girls from these areas are often married off as early as twelve years. She also identifies that the government of Singapore has launched a campaign to convince its citizens to marry at a younger age. She also identifies that in Spain up to fifty percent of women aged between twenty-five years and twenty- nine years are single and, concerned economists believe that it could have adverse effects on the countrys birth rate and future growth. The book also relates to various issues discussed in class.
The material discussed in class focuses on the marriage institution as a way out of poverty for single mothers. It is an indication that marriage is now not based on its traditional purpose of companionship and bearing children. The government policies and funding geared towards marriage bring it out as a form of investment rather than an institution that works towards the development of society. These are some of the issues Coontz is trying to address in her book. She identifies that marriage is slowly becoming fragile which is indicated by the massive support especially financially pumped into the institution by the government. Coontz identifies that marriage was based on love in the nineteenth century and became sexualized in the twentieth century. From the class material, it is evident that marriage has changed to a form of investment. The book acts as an informative tool especially in the concept of sociology and the family.
I believe it addresses its central point well and supports the identified ideas with strong scholarly knowledge. Coontz does not just put forward claims without a basis for what she is trying to address but goes further to give clear examples concerning marriage from regions across the world. I would, however, like to know from the author the most appropriate basis of marriage. It is an institution that touches on every individual in society, and I would like to know the purpose one should have in mind when getting into marriage. Should it be for love, for bringing up children, as a form of financial support or a combination of all the factors?
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