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What is Endogamy

Updated on December 29, 2011


Endogamy is the rule specifying marriage to a person within one's own group. A rule of endogamy permits a person to marry within his or her own group. The group may be a caste (in India), a class, a rule, an ethnic group or a religious group or even a village. The rule of endogamy stipulates that the partners must be from the same group. It prohibits marriage with out-group members. Thus endogamy is a rule that prescribes marriage between a boy and a girl belonging to the same group.

Forms of Endogamy

Tribal Endogamy: Endogamy that allows a person to marry another one, within one's own tribe is called tribal endogamy.

Caste endogamy in India: Endogamy that allows a person to marry another person within one's own caste is called caste endogamy. A Brahmin will marry a Brahmin; a Kshatriya will marry a Kshatriya and so on. The caste groups in India are endogamous. Sub-Caste Endogamy, In India each caste consists of several sub-castes and sub-sub-castes. Endogamy occurs at the sub-caste and sub-sub-caste level.

Class Endogamy: A form of endogamy which allows marriage between members of a single class, in Europe and America class endogamy is prevalent.

Race Endogamy: A form of endogamy which permits marriage between members who belong to the same race. in Africa, Europe and America, race endogamy is common.

Ethnic Endogamy: A form of endogamy which allows marriage between members of the same ethnic group.

Village Endogamy: A form of endogamy which permits marriage between members of the same village community. It exists in South India.

Deme Endogamy: A form of endogamy which allows marriage between members of close kin group called deme. Demes occur among the Arab Bedouins.

Moiety Endogamy: A form of endogamy which allows marriage between members of the same moiety. Among the Todas, for example, there are two moieties, the Tartarol and Taivoliol. Each moiety practices endogamy.

Origin of Endogamy

Reasons for the emergence of endogamy.

  • Universal fear of strange, the novel and the unknown is the source of tribal endogamy.
  • Desire to keep up the purity of culture and prestige and status is the source of caste, class, race and ethnic endogamy.
  • Desire to keep the family property within a circle of close relatives and the continuous political supports in the event of conflict with outsiders are the sources of deme endogamy among the Arabian Bedouins.

Advantages of Endogamy

  1. Endogamy preserves the group's homogeneity.
  2. Endogamy maintains the numerical force of its group.
  3. Endogamy preserves a religious or ethnic tradition, usually the endogamous group within which one is encouraged to find one's spouse is relatively large. For example, many people living in Jordan identify themselves as Palestinian rather than Jordanian. They are encouraged to marry other Palestinians not Jordanians, which helps them to preserve their ethnic identity.
  4. Endogamy preserves the purity in the group and protects its prestige and status. For example, the Red Indians feel that they are pure and beautiful. They say that the white people are like "skinned rabbits", where the Red Indians and whites formed into a mixed race, the former consider themselves superior to others, thereby bestowing more prestige and status on themselves than on the hybrids.
  5. Endogamy keeps women happier. As endogamy promotes selection of spouse from within one's own group, it facilitates circulation of women within the group, in that case, the women can remain within the familiar surroundings and be in the company of women, who belongs to their own society. The problem of communication can be avoided. Adequate assistance can be obtained easily from their own relations in any case of emergency or crisis.
  6. Endogamy keeps property within the group. The property given to the bride or the groom will be within a close circle of relations across generations.
  7. Endogamy fosters a sense of unity within the group to which the couple belongs.

Disadvantages of Endogamy

  1. Endogamy restricts the sphere of mate selection
  2. Endogamy encourages ethnocentrism.
  3. Endogamy emphasizes group feeling and creates communalism, regionalism and violence.
  4. Endogamy encourages hatred and jealously among different groups and societies.
  5. Endogamy encourages the customs of dowry and bride-price.


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      Drswae 5 years ago

      Very relevant notes