The social custom and institution of arranged marriages makes up a large part of the history of marriage and society. However the custom has been criticized and often condemned in the contemporary Western world. Many people see arranged marriages as unethical and as a deprivation of human rights and of the right to free choice of life partner. However, this view is sometimes contradicted by many modern youths from cultures that have traditionally approved of arranged marriages. The view in favor of arranged marriages is that it promotes social integration, security and the continuation of worthwhile cultural traditions and norms. There are many modern youths living on counties like the United States who accept and approve of their arranged marriages. Both these views will be explored in a modern context in this paper.
Arranged marriages still take place throughout the world. There have however also been many changes to these traditions in contemporary society. Many of today's arranged marriages occur in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka where they are still generally accepted. Japan is another country where arranged marriages are prevalent with more than 30% of the marriages arranged by family or other societal authorities. There are also different types of arranged marriage. In Japan there are two types of marriage - known as the love marriage and the arranged marriage. While there are still arranged marriages in Japan, the majority of marriages are love marriages, similar to the Western marriages (Arranged Marriage)
The types of arranged marriage also vary from culture to culture and within cultures. Firstly, there is planned type of marriage which is organized completely by the parents and the community. This is the type of marriage where "The individual may only see a photograph or may never meet his or her prospective mate until the day of marriage." (Zaidi, and Shuraydi 2002) Secondly there is marriage that is orchestrated through a delegation of chaperoning situation. In his type of marriage the individuals have more freedom and communicate their desired choice of partner to their parents. The third type is referred to as the " the Joint-Venture type," which is where " ... both parents and children are active in the mate selection process. Open courting or dating with the prospective spouse may occur here." (Ibid)
The practice and concept of an arranged marriage is contrary to the cultural norm is most Western counties. In order to understand the acceptance or rejection of arranged marriage one has to understand something about the foundations of cultural norms and world views. In modern Western cultures marriage is seen as a social and possible religious contract between two individuals. The emphasis is on the individual's free choice of life partner. The essential difference between this view and the view that favors arranged marriage is determined by culture. Cultures that favor arranged marriage usually place a greater value on the group or the interdependence between people, rather than the individuals. Therefore the crucial point in understanding the acceptance or rejection of arranged marriages is to be aware of the prominence given in the different cultures to the idea of the individual as opposed to the idea of the group. Western societies like the United States have a culture which is based in the idea of the predominance and value of the individual and the positive connotations associated with that ideal. This ideal of individualism is also reflected in their contemporary view of marriage. This viewpoint is expressed clearly as follows,
In individualistic societies of the West (i.e., Canada & United States), the mate selection process is a self-choice system based on the factor of love. Here, the decision is an individual one made by the man and woman involved. In this system, young men and women are expected to date, court, fall in love, and then decide whether to get married, in accordance with their choice of a marriage partner, with or without parental consent. It is a function of greater self-expression and personal gratification in which the individuals in question are in control. Both romantic love and companionship are perceived as critical components for marriage (Dion & Dion, 1996). (Zaidi, and Shuraydi 2002)
In contrast to this view of the importance of the individual are the more the traditional cultures such as the Indian culture. In this culture there is a sense of the groups being more important than the separate individuals. There is also an important emphasis on the dependence and interdependence among the different members of the family system. This too is reflected in their cultural systems such as marriage.
The traditional system of mate selection is characterized by a marriage arranged by the families of the individuals (Kurian, 1979). ... This marriage is defined as contractual agreement, written or unwritten, between two families, rather than individuals. Here, the principle of familialism and interdependent social relationships are dominant, especially for females. The individual's interests, needs, and happiness are considered secondary to the interests of the family and community. (Zaidi, and Shuraydi 2002)
The positive aspects of arranged marriage are that they not only help to maintain social and cultural traditions but they also have other benefits such as the retention of property within the family structure. Many couples state, as the reason for a positive view of arranged marriage, the sense of security, both moral and economic that it provides. Even in countries such as India which has become modernized and "westernized" in many respects, there is no contradiction between a modern lifestyles and arranged marriages
It is important to realize that while India is very modernized in some aspects (i.e.. they lead the world in student's math and science scores and produce the largest amount of engineers in the world) they still keep to the tradition of arranged marriages. ," It is an accepted fact that a person's family will play a role in picking the marriage partner." (Arranged Marriages and Dowry)
The issue of arranged marriage is complicated by the fact that many societies, including modern Western countries, are multicultural. This means that there are many people from different culture and with different traditions living in a country. Many of these young people have had to adapt or leave the conventions and norms of their traditions. However there are also those who wish to retain aspects of their culture such as arranged marriages. It should also be borne in mind that the modern version of an arrange marriage is often not as restrictive or as rigid as the past. There is usually much more leeway for choice within the structure of the arranged marriage. In cultures such as India the arranged marriage is often seen as an act of love and not overbearing dominance. (Arranged Marriage)
It is important to remember that in Indian society an arranged marriage is seen as an act of love. Since marriage is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make and because divorce is not accepted among most Indians, it is imperative that the marriage choice is carefully thought out and planned. (Arranged Marriages and Dowry)
It is for this reason that many modern Muslim couples are not opposed to arranged marriages, even when living in Western counties and accepting other aspects of that culture. This has a lot to do with the desire to retain their traditional and cultural identity.
Today, 23-year-old Mekhul Gupta from Detroit, Mich., is considering marriage. Although she was born and raised in America, Gupta insists that she is open to an arranged introduction. While she is intrigued by the world of body-piercing, nocturnal rave parties and bungee jumping, she maintains a strong sense of her Indian identity.
( Ramaswami Srikant).
Interestingly, many young Indians living in America place marriage before love in the view of relationships. "You can…