Over the century control of courtship shifted from parents to youth, and friends, as opposed to kin, became more important in sustaining marriages. Dual-wage-earner families replaced the male breadwinner. Social and political liberalism assailed conservative laws and religious regimes, expanding access to divorce and birth control. Although norms of masculinity and femininity retain huge power in most cultures, visions of more egalitarian and romantic love as the basis of marriage have gained traction-made appealing by the global spread of capitalist social relations and also broadcast by culture industries in the developed world. The legalization of same-sex marriage-in over twenty-five nations by 2020-epitomizes a century of change toward a less gender-defined ideal that includes a continued desire for social recognition and permanence.
A Cultural History of Marriage in the Modern Age presents an overview of the period with essays on Courtship and Ritual; Religion, State and Law; Kinship and Social Networks; the Family Economy; Love and Sex; the Breaking of Vows; and Representations of Marriage.