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The Symbolic Significance of Marriage - Term Paper Example

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There are different types of marriages, which can be classified into broad categories namely the opposite sex marriages and the same sex marriages (Charon, 2004). While the same sex marriage entails the union of two individuals who are of the same gender, opposite sex marriage refers to the union of two individuals who are of different genders (Eshleman, 2009). Although marriage for opposite sex individuals is customary and traditionally recognized, it is not the case of same sex marriages, which is an aspect of social change and modernity. Thus, same sex marriage is controversial and even unacceptable by both the cultural and social values of some communities, as well as the laws of the land. A marriage is formalized through various ways. Formalization of a marriage is done, so that it becomes recognizable both by the social and customary values as well as by the law. Wedding is one such avenue of formalizing a marriage, which can be traditional, customary, religious or a civil wedding (Sheldon, 1980). Many communities have limited a marriage to two individuals of opposite sex, while some allows and recognizes polygamous marriages. Nevertheless, marriage, both as a state and an institution has symbolic significance. However, the symbolic significance of marriage varies from one community and society to the other, while at the same time; the communities share some symbolic significance. According to Symbolic Interactionism Theory, a family is a unit that consists of personalities who are in constant interaction, to find a meaning in each other (Charon, 2004). Thus, according to the theory, people interact with symbols, which entail words, gestures, pre-determined rules, and well-defined roles (Herbert, 1971). Thus, the theory postulates that humans develop symbols, which they apply in their interaction to give a meaning to the world. However, such meanings can only be discovered, through the interaction of such individuals with their environment as well as with other people. The meanings are subject to interpretations of the symbols involved, and dependent on the individuals involved. Thus, to understand the behavior of such individuals, then, there is a need to understand the symbols and interpret them, to give a meaning (Sheldon, 1980). According to the theory, the interaction of an individual with the wider society influences their behaviors, through a set of constraints and limitations applied based on the social norms and values (Herbert, 1971). Therefore, according to the theory, individuals develop their identities through interactions with other people, an aspect that makes a family become a social group. Marriage serves as a symbol of agreement and commitment. The union of two individuals in a marriage serves to indicate that they agree and have committed themselves to sharing and partner in all aspects of life (Herbert, 1971). Thus, through marriage, individuals commit themselves to living together, to share in the joys and the sorrows of each other, for the common benefit of each one of them and of the community at large. Since according to the Symbolic Interactionism Theory, a symbolic interaction between individuals serves to create a meaning, then, the interaction of two individuals through marriage serves to inform the society that the individuals have committed themselves to sharing all the aspects of their lives and to act jointly towards enhancing the wellbeing of each other. The indulgence ...Show more
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Name: Course: Date: The Symbolic Significance of Marriage Marriage refers to the state of two individuals being united, of their own consent, in a contractual relationship that is recognizable by the law (Herbert, 1971). It can also refer to that institution in which two individuals are joined through being married…
The Symbolic Significance of Marriage
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