Marriage is a dynamic part of life, which is characterized by a wedding in most cultures. However, the reason why people get married vary from one individual to another, though most people get married in order to have a legally binding relationship, which is intimate and lasting. Parties getting married must have the ability to understand the duties and responsibilities involved, as well as the nature of the marriage contract. Also, they must consent to marry willingly and cannot be forced to do so by any one. Most cultures have a minimum age for marriage; for instance, in Canada, the minimum age is sixteen with parental consent, or eighteen or nineteen without any parental consent. Blood relationships (consanguinity) and close relationships (affinity) in marriage are also prohibited in most cultures.
However, through globalization and modernization, the institution of marriage has changed through acculturation, diffusion, innovation, and cultural loss (Haviland et al 363). Some marriage ideas have been borrowed from other societies, and replaced the traditional ones while others have been created and accepted widely by other communities. In addition, dominant and powerful societies have expanded their cultural practices across borders; thus, forcing other societies to forsake their traditional cultural practices in marriage and adopt the new ones.
According to Haviland et al (410), globalization plays a significant role in shaping the future of the world. It refers to a process that transforms local traditions and cultures into global ones; hence, resulting in investment, trade and cultural exchange across the borders. Globalization signifies the removal of mostly economic barriers in order to assist in inter-cultural relations. Thus, it is the best way to end discrimination since it encourages inter-cultural and inter-racial marriage.
However, globalization has changed how the marriage ceremony used to be conducted in Africa. Most African countries practiced traditional marriages where the bride and the groom got married under the customary law. It was a requirement for the family of the groom to pay dowry to the bride’s family before marriage. Through globalization, most African societies have borrowed the idea of weddings, which is a common practice in the west (Browning 102). As a result, the traditional cultural practice of marriage has weakened and the payment of dowry is no longer a requirement.
Similarly, modernization refers to a process through which the society goes through industrialization, urbanization and other social changes based on the social organization and development of technology. According to Browning (102), modernization is also referred to as globalization if the changes involved occur in all parts of the world. However, although most people believe that modernization helps the society to change and develop, it is also a threat to the quality and stability of marriage.
One of the major effects of modernization in marriage is the evident in parenthood. Traditionally, women were expected to stay at home and take care of their children and husbands by cooking, washing, and doing other household chores. The husband was supposed to be the sole bread winner and worked outside the home, but this traditional practice has greatly changed due to modernization, which has encouraged gender equality. Women no longer stay at home; rather, they have careers and are the sole bread winners of the family while men stay at home and take care of household chores, as well as raise their children.
According to the traditional culture, every woman and man was expected to get married, and live together as husband and wife. Today, this cultural practice is no longer observed because some couples choose not to get married, but still live together as a married couple in a common-law relationship, which is referred to as cohabitation (Jervis 1). Moreover, traditionally unmarried partners were not required to support each other financially, but currently, some cultures recognize cohabiting couples as spouses. Thus, they have legal responsibility to support each other and have the benefits that legally married couples enjoy. In the traditional culture, marriages were expected to last a life time; hence, divorce cases were very rare. However, modernization has played a big role in empowering women and encouraging gender equality, which Jervis (1), believes is one of the main causes of divorce in the modern world.
Both the traditional culture and the modern culture work for the society because they suit the conditions in the society. According to Giddens (45), change from traditional culture to modern culture is one of the greatest achievements in the society today. This is because traditional culture is said to be one of the many factors that hinder development. As discussed earlier, modernization has changed the traditional culture of marriage through gender equality such that women now have careers. However, although many tend to run away from their parental duties, studies have proved that gender equality is one of the major factors that drive development. Nevertheless, since culture is constantly changing, I believe it is the duty of the society to ensure that development and culture complement each other in order to protect the institution of marriage.
In conclusion, the traditional culture is said to be held together by relationships in the society such as family, marriage and tribe. Societies where traditional culture is still strong understand that relationships among people are highly essential in order for their cultural practices to survive. However, globalization and modernization has resulted in the creation of modern culture where relationships among people such as marriage and family are no longer valued. Giddens (92), states that unlike the traditional culture, modern culture is held together by things and power, and not by relationships and people.
Browning, Don. Marriage and Modernization: How Globalization Threatens Marriage andWhat to Do About It. Texas: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003
Giddens, Anthony. The Consequences of Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press. 1990. Print.
Haviland, Willian, Prins, Harald, McBride, Bunny & Walrath, Dana. Essentials of CulturalAnthropology" 2nd Ed. Fort Worth, Tx: Harcourt College publishers. 2010. Print.
Jervis, Nancy. What Is a Culture? World Communities: What is culture? 2006. Web. 11May2013. O'Neil, Dennis. Processes of change. 2006. Web 11 May 2013.