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
Polygyny is defined as marriage between one man and two or more wives concurrently. It is one form of polygamy, the marriage of a male or female to two or more spouses concurrently. It contrasts with polyandry, the marriage of a woman to two or more husbands at the same time, which is rare, and with monogamy, the marriage of a man or woman to just one spouse. Serial monogamy is the marriage of a person to two or more spouses in sequence, and can have consequences not unlike those of polygamy. The concept of polygyny presupposes the universal applicability of the category of “marriage,” which is not in fact a straightforward matter; during the period when anthropologists were trying to agree on the definition of terms of art, it proved difficult to arrive at criteria for marriage that were universally, or even very generally applicable. Consequently, what one anthropologist ...