This introduction provides an overview of the theories employed by the contributors. They agree that social spaces are equally or more relevant to understanding why marital rules are sometimes ignored or manipulated. All but one of the contributors direct their attention to differentiating and exploring the relationship between kinship and marriage structures as they ought to be and as they are. They arrive at the same conclusion: there were or are mechanisms to impart flexibility to what appears to be rigid elementary kinship structures. The introduction also describes how and to what use these strategies of manipulating the marital norms are put, starting with individual effort and moving to community-wide strategies. Running through the book is another theme—the way globalization is subverting traditional hierarchies, altering identities and eroding ancestral norms and values. Several chapters describe how the diminishing authority of elders has led to more extra-marital pregnancies, more “love” marriages, and fewer alliances between families. Finally the introduction critiques two of Lévi-Strauss’s key findings; rather, people manipulate the marital rules in an attempt to maximize their potential spouses—they may succeed or fail.
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