Arranged marriages have been around for quite a while. Not only has this form of marriage stood the test of time, even today in large parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, a significant proportion of all marriages are arranged. Consequently, social scientists of all stripes have sought to study the intricacies of arranged marriages. In fact, to commemorate 1994 as the international year of the family, the UNESCO commissioned a large study on the changing family in Asia (Atal, 1992). Arranged marriages received a considerable amount of attention in this study. This popularity of arranged marriages notwithstanding, economists have been interested in systematically analyzing marriages only since Becker (1973). Further, this interest has largely been restricted to the study of marriage in western societies in a deterministic setting. The fact that interpersonal communication processes in western "love" marriages are different from those used in arranged marriages is not in dispute. However, beyond recognizing this simple fact, economists have contributed very little to our understanding of the nature of interpersonal communication in arranged marriages. Given this state of affairs, this paper has three objectives. First, we formalize the traditional interpersonal communication process in arranged marriages. The reader should note that this formalization is an attempt to capture those aspects of interpersonal communication that are common to arranged marriages in many different parts of the world. Consequently, it is unlikely that our formalization will capture every aspect of interpersonal communication in a specific arranged marriage. Second, we analyze the properties of this interpersonal communication process from the perspective of a marrying agent. Finally, once again from the perspective of a marrying agent, we study the likelihood that the use of this interpersonal communication process will result in the agent finding the right partner for himself or herself. The rest of this paper is organized as follows: Chapter 2 provides a review of the literature and an overview of an interpersonal communication process that fits a wide variety of arranged marriages. Chapter 3 studies a formal model of interpersonal communication based on the discussion in Chapter 2, and then compares the findings of this paper with the extant literature on arranged marriages in anthropology and sociology. Chapter 5 concludes and offers suggestions for future research.
Marriage proposals are more likely to be received in certain time intervals in a marrying agent's lifetime; one can let the rate at which marriage proposals are received by the agent's well-wishers be a function of time.
Background Research/Literature Review
Arranged marriages are based on the assumption that because of a variety of reasons such as imperfect and incomplete information (Goode, 1963, p. 210), and the tendency of young people to seek pleasure (Auboyer, 1965, p. 176), young persons generally cannot be relied upon to find a suitable partner for them. Consequently, parents, relatives, friends, and increasingly matchmaking intermediaries (hereafter well-wishers), take upon themselves the task of looking for a suitable bride. While in western societies, the agent wishing to marry generally looks for a partner himself, in an arranged marriage this important task is generally not undertaken by the agent but by his well-wishers. The reader should note that this is a fundamental difference between arranged marriages and marriages in western nations. The second germane aspect of arranged marriages concerns the marrying agent's decision. As Blood (1967, p. 55), Rao and Rao (1982, p. 32-33), and Applbaum (1995) have noted, in modern arranged marriage settings, the agent wishing to marry has considerable autonomy over the actual marriage decision. In the words of Blood (1967, p. 11), while...
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