Hypergamy / Hypogamy
Hypergamy is a marriage system in which the woman "marries up." The preferred marriage is one in which the woman marries a man of a higher social class. The man should not marry a woman of higher status, nor should a woman marry below her status. This system is found in conjunction with hierarchical societies and with the dowry
as the only form of marital payment, as among the higher castes in India and in Renaissance Italy. The wife's family
, by giving a dowry that tends to become extravagantly high, may hope to improve its rank and social position or to make politically advantageous connections. The upward movement of women from lower social strata means that there will be an excess of women at the top. The high cost of dowries also means that families will not be able to, or will be very reluctant to, dower more than one daughter. Female infanticide, forcing daughters into the cloister, and polygamy are among the methods used to decrease marriageable women at the top. In the lower social classes there may be a scarcity of marriageable women.
Hypogamy is the opposite of hypergamy. In this system the desired marriage is one in which the man marries up. Such hypogamous marriages appear frequently among the heroes of the Greek legends. In modern hypogamous marital systems high marital payment in the form of bridewealth benefits the maternal lineage, as hypergamy benefits the paternal.
Citation: Contributor last name, contributor first name.
"Hypergamy / Hypogamy." In Women's Studies Encyclopedia,
ed. Helen Tierney. Greenwood Press, 2002.
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