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A suitable match: Love and marriage amongst middle class Gujaratis in India and the UK

Twamley, Katherine (2010). A suitable match: Love and marriage amongst middle class Gujaratis in India and the UK. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


The thesis is an ethnographic study exploring understandings of love and intimacy amongst young middle class Indians of Gujarati origin living in the UK and India. It is based primarily upon repeat in-depth interviews, and participant observation. A two site comparative study was used to enable an understanding of how social and economic contexts shape cultural constructions of intimate relationships and sexuality. I explore these issues through the narratives of men and women who are either single, in the process of courtship/pre-marital relationships, or are recently married. The study is informed by recent work in the 'political economy of love' and Giddens' thesis on the 'Transformation of Intimacy‘. I examine to what extent young Gujaratis aspire to or are moving towards a more individualized, companionate and 'western' model of relationships, and whether such a 'transformation' impacts on the gender relations between husband and wife.

I argue that while global ideologies of romantic love are pervasive, they are interpreted by informants within local understandings of appropriate marriage and relationships. As such, informants in Baroda, India are negotiating new forms of courtship which fit in with the ideals of love, but also with more traditional aspects of arranged marriage as a system of status maintenance. They want to be in love with their future spouse, but only within socially acceptable models of endogamous marriage. In contrast in the UK love marriage is idealised over arranged marriage. Informants distanced themselves from any sense of 'arrangement' in their relationships, which seemed to call into question for them the veractiy of their love. The social context of the UK both supports and facilitates love marriage amongst young people, while the converse is true in India. Largely men and women in both contexts appeared to have similar aspirations for their relationships, though women were likely to be more in favour of egalitarian values. What this meant was interpreted differently in India and the UK. In neither setting, however, was gender equality fully realised in the lives of the informants due to both structural and normative constraints.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: © 2010 Katherine Twamley
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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