Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964517 | Print ISBN: 9781412909167 | Online ISBN: 9781412964517| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The term marriage refers to an institution involving a formal recognition of the sexual union of two people. Marriage confers legitimacy upon an intimate relationship, and therefore this form of recognition often grants a range of social, religious, and legal benefits; rights; and responsibilities to those who marry. In contemporary contexts, marriage usually refers to the monogamous union of a man (husband) and a woman (wife); however, polygny, polyandry, and polyamory are possible alternatives to monogamy. These forms of relationships, however, tend to lack the forms of recognition granted to monogamous opposite-sex couples. Marriage as an institution reflects the norms of the society in which it exists and reveals in particular the beliefs regarding how sexuality should be governed. Rights such as inheritance, property rights, access to health care, tax credits, adoption rights, and rights of next of kin are some of the privileges that marriage assigns. Marriages are The ...