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Perspectives of Marriage as a Social Institution

Marriage is a fundamental social institution, and "The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society" (Spalding and Loconte, 2003). This was the definition given by Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court when the question of gay marriage came before the court. She went on to add that, "For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In turn, it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations."

Ideally, the institution of marriage is used to regulate heterosexual behavior and the resulting procreation, ensuring a stable family structure in which children will be reared, educated and socialized (Dulle, 2004). The partners in marriage are expected to engage in exclusive sexual relations, most likely resulting in children, and with their paternity presumed to be that of the husband. Children learn their place in the world from the family who raised them and learn about the world and how to interact with it. The institution of marriage is supposed to encourage parents to remain committed to each other and to their children as they grow, encouraging a stable venue for the education and socialization of the children.

Functionalism is the oldest and most dominant theoretical perspective on sociology, and its main proponents were Emile Durkheim, Turcott Parsons and Robert Merton, (Functionalism, 2004). The functionalist perspective is based on the application of the scientific method to the objective social world and the use of analogy between the individual organisms of society. The assertion is that society can be studied in the same way as the physical world, that it is objectively real and is observable with techniques such as surveys and interviews. The positivistic view of functionalism assumes that study of the soc...

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Perspectives of Marriage as a Social Institution. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 01:35, October 25, 2014, from http://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1713295.html