•March 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Stephanie Coontz: On Marriage
When teaching about social institutions, sociology instructors often aim to illustrate the ways in which, paradoxically, institutions are both rigid and changing over time. This includes the institution of marriage. The recent Supreme Court decision to federally recognize same-sex marriage offers a very clear, timely, and high-profile example of the changing nature of the institution. Students might not, however, see as readily the ways in which heterosexual marriages have also changed dramatically over time. In this video, Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies, illustrates how marrying for love is a radical and very modern idea, first appearing in the late 18th century. Coontz points to two paradoxes that emerged once love played a role in marriage; both have to do with the stability of the institution.