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The study discusses the concept of polygamy and its prevalence in different societies. The study identifies the advantages and issues pertaining to polygamy and highlights the practice supported by law. However, the study also discusses the oppositions that polygamy faces.

Table of Contents



Thesis Statement:1


Cross-Cultural Practice of Polygamy:2

Societies that practice Polygamy:6

Advantages of Polygamy:7


End Notes9


International Law10



One of the most challenging aspects of multiculturalism is the effort to accommodate some cultural groups' needs involving specific traditional practices that might conflict with the ideas of multiculturalism and democratic civil rights. Usually, many of these practices have religious origins, but these are not exclusive. Some significant cases are certain right-of-passage practices; religious, spiritual, or sacrificial mutilation and scarring; particular ways of clothing or nudity; sacrificial slaughter of animals; forms of polygamy; and so forth. In many cases, a minority group's traditional practices are against the norms of a mainstream culture but also constitute a significant aspect of the way of life for that specific culture. Some examples are polygamy in Islam or Mormonism, female circumcision in East African cultures, or Ta-moko as a form of tattooing of the face in Maori culture. The most important issue around these traditional practices in the multiculturalism debate is the idea of consent. However, not all practices are performed with the consent of the subjects. This paper discusses polygamy in a holistic context. In addition to this the paper primarily focuses on the social, biological, and ecological factors explaining the societal responses to polygamy.

Thesis Statement:

Some societies and historical periods are seen to embrace polygamy, while other societies and historical periods prohibit and persecute the practice of polygamy.


From a sociological perspective marriage is a legal, economic, domestic, and/or mating relationship. Marriage is defined and practiced in diverse ways in different parts of the world. Culture, religion, values, economics, and changes through history have affected the way marriage is understood. As marriage has become a political entity, there are diverse beliefs about the utility of marriage. The dissolution and effects of ending the marriage contract have an impact for the many people involved. Frequently, marriage is understood to be a prerequisite for having and raising children, thereby symbolizing the beginning of the developing mother or father roles.

Polygamy refers to simultaneity of marital bonds with two or more partners and is thus (if only legally) distinguished from serial (sequential or successive) monogamy and nonmatrimonial, polyamorous relationships. Polygyny (a man marries two or more co-wives) is much more prevalent than polyandry or group marriage, and would be a preferential system in 75 percent of ethnographic communities drawn from the mid-20th century World Ethnographic Sample. In the contemporary West, sensitivity over polygamy is politically oscillating with that over immigrant, denominational, and ethnic minority status of the polygamist (or bigamist, in legal terms focusing on the ceremonial act of marriage rather than the polygamous state it inaugurates), inviting confrontations between de facto practice, legal climate, and collateral political sensibilities, for instance, over same-sex marriage. It brings together a range of discourses about women, often in terms of ...
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