Marriage

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Anthropologists have proposed several competing definitions of marriage so as to encompass the wide variety of marital practices observed across cultures.[4] In his book The History of Human Marriage (1921), Edvard Westermarck defined marriage as "a more or less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring."[5] In The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization (1936), he rejected his earlier definition, instead provisionally defining marriage as "a relation of one or more men to one or more women that is recognized by custom or law".[6] The anthropological handbook Notes and Queries (1951) defined marriage as "a union between a man and a woman such that children born to the woman are the recognized legitimate offspring of both partners."[7] In recognition of a practice by the Nuer of Sudan allowing women to act as a husband in certain circumstances, Kathleen Gough suggested modifying this to "a woman and one or more other persons."[8] Edmund Leach criticized Gough's definition for being too restrictive in terms of recognized legitimate offspring and suggested that marriage be viewed in terms of the different types of rights it serves to establish. Leach expanded the definition and proposed that "Marriage is a relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons, which provides that a child born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited by the rules of the relationship, is accorded full birth-status rights common to normal members of his society or social stratum"[9] Leach argued that no one definition of marriage applied to all cultures. He offered a list of ten rights associated with marriage, including sexual monopoly and rights with respect to children, with specific rights differing across cultures. Duran Bell also criticized the legitimacy-based definition on the basis that some societies do not require marriage for legitimacy, arguing that in societies...
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