I had remarked on a Dennis Prager interview with two sociologists, John Borneman and Laurie Hart, on the subject of marriage. One of the things that had struck me during the interview was the wide variety of human relationships that could qualify as "marriage" under the definition being proposed.
I had taken a recording of the interview with me on a trip, and when I heard it again, I remembered that I had wanted to e-mail the interviewees and ask if this was an outrageous interpretation. Finding e-dresses was easy, and today, I received a reply.
On Sunday, May 30, 2004, at 01:09 AM, Karl Lembke wrote:Calling my comments "intelligent" is a good way to stay off of my bad side, and the rest of the reply sort of confirmed a though I had while listening to the interview. If we take the proposed definition of a transfer of dependency relationship from one group to another as a Generalized Anthropological Definition of Marriage (GAD), then "marriage" becomes defined so broadly as to be almost meaningless. At the very least...
Greetings: I heard your interview with Dennis Prager on the subject of marriage. As the discussion went back and forth over the essential criteria that define "marriage", I was struck by the number of possible human institutions that could conceivably fit the definition. Given that the definition appears to encompass, in its indispensable points, little more than one person leaving a dependency relationship with one group and entering one with a different group, I'm wondering if it's possible to exclude legal adoption or fostering of a child from the definition of "marriage". In other words, does it violate the sense of the anthropological definition of "marriage" to regard an adopted child as having been "married" by its adoptive parents? Thank you for sitting for the interview.Dear Karl, one of the more intelligent comments we received. In fact, you are right if one is consistent theoretically. That is, take the issue of care and dependency, as the basis for marriage. Of course, this is also an ideal condition, and necessary, but never sufficient in any particular place. Things are always tacked on (like age or class or residence restrictions, not to speak of sexual ones). Personally, given the delegitimation of class or race-based forms of exclusion, I favor a minimalist definition of marriage as those dependency relationships that require particular kinds of social care. all the best, John
... it would appear that legal adoption and fostering do fall under the Generalized Anthropologists' Definition (GAD) of "marriage". Therefore, same-sex marriage is already legal in this country, and we can quit fighting over the issue.Like that'll ever work.