While societies have rules of exogamy, which specify which relatives are forbidden to marry, they also have those of endogamy, which require that marriages be solely or preferentially contracted within particular social groups, ranges, or relationships. Such practices help to highlight community identity, uniqueness, and status in opposition to neighbouring groups with whom marriages are discouraged. Endogamy is often applied on a society-wide level and assists in defining group boundaries. It is sometimes applied to sub-components within a larger society, often to reinforce their abilty to maintain restrictive access to property, power, and position. Four types of endogamous division have been widely observed:

© Brian Schwimmer, All rights reserved
Department of Anthropology
University of Manitoba
Created 1995
Last updated: September 2003