Exchange Marriages in South Punjab, Pakistan: A Sociological Analysis of Kinship Structure, Agency, and Symbolic Culture

This book deals with the system of exchange marriages in South Punjab, Pakistan. This system does not only regulate mate selection, but it is also an institutional guarantee of reciprocity, welfare and social cohesion. It connects families by means of one marriage, and also creates a double bond between two (or sometimes more) couples. This establishes specific conditions for stability and possible changes in marriage pattern. Valuation and stigmatization as social mechanisms are used to maintain the system of the exchange. It also shows to what degree new forms of cultural values and new patterns of social exchange come into play, create contradictions and undermine the traditional cultural norms. The study focuses on the interplay between structure, culture, and agency (Archer 1996). Thereby, not only the functions and dysfunctions of the system come into view, but also the conditions under which the system is actively being maintained by different actors; the tensions that it produces between individual and collective perspectives; as well as the cultural and structural conditions under which marriage practices and concepts are gradually being transformed.