Wedding paradoxes: individualized conformity and the ‘perfect day’

Journal article


Carter, J. and Duncan, S. 2016. Wedding paradoxes: individualized conformity and the ‘perfect day’. The Sociological Review. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-954X.12366
AuthorsCarter, J. and Duncan, S.
Abstract

Marriage rates in 21st century Britain are historically low, divorce and separation are historically high, and marriage is no longer generally seen as necessary for legitimate sexual relationships, long-term partnership, or even parenting. Yet at the same time weddings have become more prominent, both as social aspiration and as popular culture. But why have a wedding, especially an ornate, expensive and time consuming wedding, when there appears to be little social need to do so? Similarly, weddings have never been more free from cultural norms and official control - so why do these supposedly unique and deeply personal events usually replay the same assumed traditions? We draw from a small qualitative sample of 15 interviews with White, heterosexual celebrants to address these questions. While existing accounts posit weddings as a social display of success, emphasising distinction, and manipulation by a powerful wedding industry, we argue that weddings involve celebrants necessarily adapting from, and re-serving, tradition as a process of bricolage. This shapes the four major discourses interviewees used to give meanings to their weddings: the project of the couple, relationality, re-traditionalisation and romanticised consumption. At the same time many couples did not want to be distinctively unique, but rather distinctively normal. This is what we call ‘individualised conformity’.

Year2016
JournalThe Sociological Review
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
ISSN1467-954X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-954X.12366
Publication dates
Online14 Apr 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited20 Apr 2016
Accepted17 Feb 2016
Output statusPublished
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/87v25/wedding-paradoxes-individualized-conformity-and-the-perfect-day

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