The tradition of Arranged Marriages was practiced by kinship groups in the South Asian sub-continent centuries before migration to Britain took place during the 1950's. Initially, migrants came to Britain to earn wages (Shaw; 2000;13), However, the tradition of arranged marriages has remained popular amongst South Asian settlers. Anthropologists have argued arranged marriages in Britain are an economic arrangement between two families whilst others have stressed it is a custom that preserves family honor. Ballard (1972) has gone as far as advocating that the ritual demonstrates a families resistance to assimilating Anglican values and thus reinforces cultural identity. Alison Shaw's (2000;3) ethnography on Pakistani Kinship in Oxford tries to illustrate that at present, South Asian families adjust to the structural and cultural resources of the host country at their disposal towards building and re-shaping their lives in Britain on their own terms.
[...] Many of the examples of cultural identification, assimilation and parents accommodation in regards to honor show that economic factors alone are not strongly focused upon, but rather the preferences for arranged marriages amongst South Asian groups in Britain has become further diverse. Derla Murphey (1987) whilst studying Mirpuris in Bradford and Leeds argued that there is a difference between forced and arranged marriages and so it is ambiguous to define the term into one simple category. Therefore with the different interpretations of arranged marriages, it is further complex to over-simplify preferences for arranged marriages amongst South-Asian families in Britain. [...]
[...] With the influence of Western ideals of individualism and love marriage, it can be difficult for women to conform to arranged marriages, (Shaw, 2000; 95) therefore, families look at honor and the religious attitudes of the female when it comes to spouse selection. For example, in Pakistan honor or ‘izzat' depends mainly upon the behavior of a woman which associates itself to Islamic ‘purdah' whereby a curtain of strictness and moral code governs the relationship between two sexes. Its' sole purpose is to control sexuality and protect virginity on both parties, but is mainly enforced upon woman because the loss of a females' virginity is visible through pregnancy. [...]
[...] Preferences for arranged marriages may also be down to practicalities as Murphy (1987) adds that unlike their white contemporaries, British South Asians are not left with the task of selecting a lifelong partner for a relationship, but rather the process is made easier with the intervention of the parents. However, Ballard's research is out dated, and since then there have been changing values towards arranged marriages. For instance, Baumann (1996;149) discovered that assimilation did occur amongst the youth in Southall as they began to question the custom of arranged marriages. [...]
[...] Having assessed the consequences of an arranged marriage and love marriage in regards to honor, women may choose their families over their lovers as they may decide the price of sacrifice is too high in the long term. This illustrates the importance of preserving honor acknowledged by the individual, thus reinforcing the preference for an arranged marriage. Additionally, with its' links to socio-economic consequences, if honor is violated, it could result in loss of inheritance, making honor and socio- economic factors of arranged marriage inseparable. [...]
[...] This illustrates preferences for arranged marriages amongst British South Asian families become fragmented in accordance to their religious beliefs and therefore it is difficult to determine preferences for arranged marriages. Nevertheless, Baumann adds preference for cousin marriages necessitates lively contact with kin back home and it helps define the highly cohesive, but strictly bounded familial networks” (Baumann, 1996;83). Here Baumann advocates that British Pakistani families practice arranged endogamous marriages with kin back home in order to keep lively contact with their families, however, such marriages also hold economic advantages. [...]
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