Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a social group. Cultures who practice endogamy require marriage between specified social groups, classes, or ethnicities. A Danish endogamist would require marriage only to other Danes. Just about any accepted social grouping may provide a boundary for endogamy. Despite the fact that many people tend to marry members of their own social group, there are some groups that practice endogamy very strictly as an inherent part of their moral values, traditions or religious beliefs. The caste system in India is based on an order of (predominantly) endogamous groups and its formation has been suggested to have originated from the social organization of endogamous groups.
Endogamy encourages group affiliation and bonding. Endogamy is a common practice among displanted cultures attempting to make roots in new countries as it encourages group solidarity and ensures greater control over group resources (which may be important to preserve where a group is attempting to establish itself within an alien culture). It helps minorities to survive over a long time in societies with other practices and beliefs. Famous examples of strictly endogamous religious groups are the Yazidi in Northern Iraq (under Islamic majority), the Armenian-Iranians, Orthodox Jews, Old Order Amish, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Parsi of India (a non-Hindu minority in India). Ironically, endogamy can also lead to a group's extinction rather than its survival. While long serving to preserve their religion, the Samaritans' practice of endogamy now threatens this community. Refusal to intermarry as well as to accept converts has meant that the population of this ethnic group has dwindled to less than a thousand, and the small gene pool has contributed to disease within the community.
Endogamy plays an important role in social stratification and can refer to different social factors such as occupations, activities, or education. This type of social endogamy is very apparent in the United States. Actors and actresses generally marry or bond with people in a similar industry. These relationships are created because people feel more comfortable around people with similar lifestyles. The notion of class endogamy greatly affects social mobility. A son or daughter of a famous actor or musician has a much greater chance of becoming famous compared to the son or daughter of an average American worker. This is because the parents have connections in the business and can easily share them. Business also follows this pattern a lot of times. Top executives can pave the way for their offspring to follow a similar path in their business. Elite families generally contribute to endogamy within big business. As all big business works together, so do the families running them. This produces social links that are carried forward and responsible for keeping certain groups restrictive. Greek organizations at many universities in the United States are a good example of endogamy. Members generally date within these organizations. This is fostered by special events held exclusively between Greek organizations. Being a member of these groups create social bonds that are continued through one's life. Obtaining a job could be influenced by a bond created this way. Endogamy also causes certain groups to be less diversified because of the feeling to remain in one's social group. A common example would be the small percentage of interracial marriages in the United States compared to all marriages.
This article is based on "Endogamy" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Endogamy&action=history