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The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Endogamy

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Endogamy is a term referring to the customs in certain societies prohibiting its members from marrying outside their group or society.

Endogamy is a term referring to the customs in certain societies prohibiting its members from marrying outside their group or society. It is the social practice of marrying another member of the same clan, people or kinship group. It is a custom where members of a society are forbidden from marrying members of other societies or social units. Endogamy is one of the oldest forms of culture practiced by the ancient societies of many nations. Its practices are common in societies in which organization is stratified. These practices may be based on caste, as among the Hindus of India; on occupation, as among the Masai of East Africa; on age group, as among the Aboriginal Australians; on genealogical descent, as among European royalty; or on economic and social status, as among the classes of many nations.

The ancient Jewish society practiced endogamy. It was a serious abomination for a Jew to marry a non Jew or Gentile as they were called in those days. For example, Abraham married a wife for his son Isaac from his lineage and Isaac’s son Jacob also married from their lineage and so on. The patriarchs taught their children the dangers of marrying outside their lineage. In fact marrying from outside the patriarchs’ lineage means exonerating oneself from the patriarchal promises and blessings.

Endogamy was also strictly practiced by ancient Egyptian rulers, who were expected to maintain the purity of the royal blood by mating only with their siblings. In recent times, the bases for endogamy have greatly shifted to economic and social status. Most rich families arrange marriages for their children with other rich families. In such societies, it is a taboo for a person from the rich and affluent family to marry a person from a poor background. Another form of endogamy is the one practiced in religious groups – where members of a religious group are meant to marry from that same religious group.

Advantages

There are many schools of thought regarding the need for and against endogamy. Some claim that endogamy maintains the purity in a bloodline. They explain that hereditary defects introduced through marriage outside the group are likely to cause different forms of genetic deterioration in the bloodline. They also see it as a way to preserve the superior and aristocratic bloodline of the royals.

Disadvantages

Another school of thought believes that endogamy encourages incest. They assert that inbreeding is likely to cause a degeneration of the genetic stock and this will yield a long time bad effect instead of the preservation of allegedly superior or aristocratic bloodlines. Another argument advanced by many scientists against endogamy, especially where it is practiced for the purpose of preserving racial purity, states that intermarriage among races has often produced types that combine the best elements of the two parent races and are intrinsically superior to both. It encourages class demarcation and feuds among the different group.

Picture in box by Fikra on flickr.com

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