Life Style

“Parents are more tolerant about the choice of spouse”

The cross : The marriage proposal is no longer made to the parents, does this mean that they no longer have any influence on the choice of spouse for their children?

Milan Bouchet-Valat: No, the parents still have a certain influence on the choice of spouse, but it is exercised well before the marriage proposal, at the time of the meeting or at the start of the relationship, or even before, through the education given to their children. They do so more or less directly, through positive or negative remarks.

→ TESTIMONIALS. Restaurant, travel… They made their marriage proposal

This influence has been studied in particular with regard to the migratory or religious origin of the spouse. Some children said clearly that they would never dare to introduce their parents to a spouse of a different origin, even when this “prohibition” was not explicitly formulated. The same type of reservations can exist about social background. But this influence is obviously very attenuated compared to what happened at the beginning of the 20th century.and century, for example.

How has the role of parents in the choice of spouse evolved since that time?

MB-V. : The study we conducted with Sébastien Grobon showed that the evolution took place in two stages. From the turn of the century until around 1968, parents were less and less favorable to their children’s choices, no doubt because the children chose more and more different spouses and took their advice less and less into account. From the end of the 1960s, we observed a complete reversal of behaviour: parents were increasingly favorable to spouses chosen by children. A change that corresponds to the overall evolution of society towards more freedom left to individuals.

→ ANALYSIS. Less codified, still just as gendered, the marriage proposal continues to evolve

At the beginning of the last century, the opinion of the parents was less favorable when the spouse was from another country, another religion or if he did not have the same level of diploma. Even the department of birth was a criterion, which completely disappeared at the end of the XXand century. Today, parents are generally more tolerant about the choice of spouse and there is a little less social homogamy.

Does this mean that spouses are less alike?

MB-V. : Yes, the spouses are less alike than before in terms of diploma, social class and social origin. This evolution is relatively little known, it is often even thought that it is the opposite. The fact that this social homogamy has diminished does not mean, however, that it has disappeared. We still tend to choose spouses from the same background, but this is less the case than a few decades ago.


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