The wedding paradox: individualised conformity
Carter, J. 2015. The wedding paradox: individualised conformity.
Marriage rates are historically low, almost half of marriages end in divorce, and it has never been easier to live in other relationship forms like cohabitation and LAT (living apart together). Nevertheless marriage maintains continued social appeal and significance as an ideal and as a life goal. Weddings stand at the heart of this paradox: while what we understand as the 'traditional white wedding' is not (and has never been) necessary for marriage, increasingly ornate and expensive -but traditional- weddings appear to be growing in size, cost and exposure, and support both a thriving consumer industry and a pervasive celebrity and reality culture. We address this wedding paradox in our pilot interview study. Why do couples have a wedding, how is this related to marriage, and how do individuals construct their wedding day? Participants had recently experienced or were soon to have their own wedding, and came from a range of economic backgrounds and ages. We found a number of discourses in their narratives that individuals relied upon when talking about why they had a wedding; these included: 'project of the couple', relationality, retraditionalisation, and romanticised consumption. These discourses led the participants to create particular types of wedding that reflected either conformist, reproducing, reluctant or alternative positions. Overall, while some resistance to tradition was expressed, and some interviewees more actively created modernised tradition, the overwhelming picture was of individuality operating within conformity.
|Conference||British Sociological Association Conference|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||03 Nov 2015|
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