group marriage


group marriage
(among primitive peoples) a form of marriage in which a group of males is united with a group of females to form a single conjugal unit. Also called communal marriage.
[1895-1900]

* * *

      the marriage of several men with several women. As an institutionalized social practice, group marriage is extremely rare; nowhere does it appear to have existed as the prevailing form of marital arrangement. Of the 250 societies reported by the American anthropologist George P. Murdock (Murdock, George P.) (1949), only the Caingang of Brazil had chosen group marriage as an alternative form of union; even there the frequency was but 8 percent.

      At the turn of the century, many anthropologists believed that in an early stage of human development group marriage was common. Much of the literature of that time attempted to demonstrate that marital unions had undergone several evolutionary stages, beginning with complete sexual license, through group marriage, polygyny, and polyandry, and culminating in monogamy. Group marriage was erroneously ascribed to peoples in Australia, Siberia, and Africa, when in actuality the particular tribes contained groups of men who had privileged sexual access to women but did not bear the domestic and economic responsibilities that constitute a true marriage.

      Such evolutionary theories were for the most part discarded by later anthropologists, and a more representative opinion regarded group marriage as a sporadic and rare phenomenon always appearing in conjunction with polyandry. It is possible that group marriage can only occur when polyandrous marriage is common and then combines with polygyny. One motive for group marriage seems to be enhanced economic security through mate recruitment. In the West, group marriage has been the object of occasional theoretical treatises and practical experiments by utopian movements.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Group marriage — Group marriage, also known as multi lateral marriage, is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit, with all the members of the group marriage being considered to be married to all the other members of the group… …   Wikipedia

  • group marriage — noun 1. : communal marriage 2. : a system wherein common marital relations exist between a definite group of men and a definite group of women compare pirraura, punalua * * * (among primitive peoples) a form of marriage in which a group of males… …   Useful english dictionary

  • group marriage — The idea of group marriage probably originated in the incorrect observations of eighteenth century explorers (such as Cook) of the sexual habits of Polynesian societies. Lewis Henry Morgan suggested that group marriage, in which sexual and… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • group marriage — /grup ˈmærɪdʒ/ (say groohp marij) noun a form of marriage in which a group of males are united with a group of females to form a single conjugal unit …   Australian English dictionary

  • group marriage — noun a form of polygamous marriage in which more than one man and more than one woman form a family unit Syn: circle marriage …   Wiktionary

  • Marriage — For other uses, see Marriage (disambiguation). Married and Matrimony redirect here. For other uses, see Married (disambiguation) and Matrimony (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • marriage — /mar ij/, n. 1. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. 2. the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock: a happy… …   Universalium

  • marriage, group — See group marriage …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Marriage Encounter — (M.E.) is a religiously based weekend program designed to help married couples by reason of discovering or re discovering the need for God in their lives, to improve their marriage, grow closer to each other and improve commitment to each other.… …   Wikipedia

  • Marriage in South Africa — exists in a number of different forms, as a result of the diversity of religions and cultures in the country. Historically the legal definition of marriage, derived from the Roman Dutch law, was limited to monogamous marriages between opposite… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.