One Partner or Many?

Lesson 1, Topic 3
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One Partner or Many?

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Directions: Before you start, listen to part of a talk in a sociology class.

*Vocabulary is sometimes provided in written form when it may be unfamiliar to the student but essential for understanding the lecture


One Partner or Many? - Transcript

Americans typically equate marriage with monogamy, when someone is married to only one person at a time. In many countries and cultures around the world, however, having one spouse is not the only form of marriage. In a majority of cultures (78 percent, actually), polygamy, or being married to more than one person at a time, is accepted, with most polygamous societies existing in northern Africa and east Asia. Instances of polygamy are almost exclusively in the form of polygyny. Polygyny refers to a man being married to more than one woman at the same time. The reverse, when a woman is married to more than one man at the same time, is called polyandry. It is far less common and only occurs in about one percent of the world’s cultures. The reasons for the overwhelming prevalence of polygamous societies are varied but they often include issues of population growth, religious ideologies, and social status.