Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
From the Greek εντòζ + γαµώ (“out” + “to marry”), exogamy is the marital rule according to which the spouse must be sought outside the social group (e.g. kindred, totem, royal) one belongs to. It is the opposite of endogamy. The explanation of exogamy has been a major concern for anthropologists. In addition, as it has been mainly linked to the interdiction of incest, which constitutes the most important form of exogamy, exogamy as a social phenomenon was considered to be of natural origin. However, Lévi-Strauss theorized that the interdiction of incest, and therefore exogamy, is not of natural but of cultural origin. Based on a quote from Tylor, he proceeded to give the succinct interpretation that man very soon realized that he needed to choose “between marrying-out and being killed-out.” Under these conditions, no society can exist without exogamy. Just as social groups aim to preserve and transmit their ...