Janice E. Stockard Ph.D.

Anthropologist, Author, Teacher, Editor

Janice E. Stockard Ph.D.

Anthropologist, Author, Teacher, Editor

Marriage in Culture:

Practice and Meaning Across Diverse Societies

In this book, Stockard develops a cross-cultural comparative analysis of marriage, residence, and labor practices in four societies.


“This excellent book would be useful in a variety of classes, including introductory and upper-level courses in anthropology, family studies, international studies, sociology, and women’s studies. … Stockard writes in an engaging style. The book is highly readable and students have consistently given it very positive evaluations at the end of the semester. Photographs in Marriage in Culture help bring the text to life and illustrate that the anthropology work is talking about real people.”

“Stockard does an excellent job of presenting a rich array of materials and concepts in a short book of only slightly more than one hundred pages. She convincingly argues for the importance of a gendered perspective, using the ethnographic tools of an anthropologist dedicated to a holistic approach for understanding marriage and families. At the same time that she shows the utility of examining the full range of family variables-subsistence technology and post-marital residence practice. The book gives students a set of concepts and tools that are very helpful in analyzing not only marriage, but a wide range of family issues.”

“This book is one that delivers on its promise. Near the beginning of the book, Stockard states that “In short, marriage can be understood only as a product of a specific culture, within a particular history and environment.” Upon completing this book, the reader understands that argument, yet at the same time is also convinced that there are interconnections between and patterns among social variables that help us analyze families in many historical and cultural settings. It is rare to find a book that does such a good job of balancing a nomothetic and an ideographic approach to analyzing families. … In twenty years of teaching family sociology, this is the best book I’ve found for helping students truly understand concepts related to cultural variation in family patterns.”

– Journal of Teaching in Marriage and Family

“Marriage in Culture provides an informative and fascinating introduction to the cross-cultural study of marriage and kinship. I recommend it to instructors who want to introduce students family diversity around the globe and throughout history. It is an excellent resource for course on gender marriage, and family, but also to the introduction to sociology and social stratification courses.”

“Of course, instructions will assign Marriage in Culture to encourage students to identify and confront their own cultural assumptions … Stockard’s text is useful for problematizing the term “family values” and implicit notions of “normalcy” that often accompany it. The book also helps students develop their sociological imaginations by encouraging them to consider larger social forces that shape personal experiences. I found its helpful to try to project myself into the pictures of brides and grooms, and think “There but by the grace sociological factors X, Y, and Z, go I.””

– Teaching Sociology

From The Publisher

“Marriage in Culture is an innovative text that makes accessible to a broad audience the rich insights that anthropology provides into the meaning of marriage in different cultures.
Marriage practices in the four societies analyzed contrast with each other in dramatic ways – from number of spouses to the meaning of postmarital residence arrangements. The author provides compelling ethnographic accounts of the !Kung San (Bushman), Chinese, Iroquois, and Tibetan societies to familiarize students with the unique perspective of anthropologist on marriage as a cultural practice.
Each chapter places marriage within the context of a whole culture, situated within a specific historical time, and explores the ways in which different economic, political, family and gender systems shape the practice and meaning of marriage. The author makes an original contribution by highlighting the importance of postmarital residence in defining different experiences of marriage for husband and wife in each society.”

– www.wadsworth.com