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Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific social group, caste, or ethnic group, rejecting those from others as unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships.


Endogamy is common in many cultures and ethnic groups. Several religious and ethnic religious groups are traditionally more endogamous, although sometimes with the added dimension of requiring marital religious conversion. This permits an exogamous marriage, as the convert, by accepting the partner's religion, becomes accepted within the endogamous rules. Endogamy, as distinct from consanguinity, may result in transmission of genetic disorders, the so-called founder effect, within the relatively closed community.


Endogamy can serve as a form of self-segregation; a community can use it to resist integrating and completely merging with surrounding populations. Minorities can use it to stay ethnically homogeneous over a long time as distinct communities within societies that have other practices and beliefs.

The isolationist practices of endogamy may lead to a group's extinction, as genetic diseases may develop that can affect an increasing percentage of the population. However, this disease effect would tend to be small unless there is a high degree of close inbreeding, or if the endogamous population becomes very small in size.

Social dynamics

The Urapmin, a small tribe in Papua New Guinea, practice strict endogamy. The Urapmin also have a system of kinship classes known as tanum miit. Since the classes are inherited cognatically, most Urapmin belong to all of the major classes, creating great fluidity and doing little to differentiate individuals. [1]

The small community on the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha are, because of their geographical isolation, an almost endogamic society. There are instances of health problems attributed to endogamy on the island, including glaucoma and asthma as research by the University of Toronto has demonstrated. [2]


Other examples of ethnic and religious groups that practice endogamy include:

See also

Cousin marriage:

Marriage systems:

Related Research Articles

Caste Formal and informal social stratification and classification which confers status

Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in a hierarchy, and customary social interaction and exclusion based on cultural notions of purity and pollution. Its paradigmatic ethnographic example is the division of India's Hindu society into rigid social groups, with roots in India's ancient history and persisting to the present time. However, the economic significance of the caste system in India has been declining as a result of urbanization and affirmative action programs. A subject of much scholarship by sociologists and anthropologists, the Hindu caste system is sometimes used as an analogical basis for the study of caste-like social divisions existing outside Hinduism and India. The term "caste" is also applied to morphological groupings in female populations of ants and bees.

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Exogamy is the social norm of marrying outside one's social group. The group defines the scope and extent of exogamy, and the rules and enforcement mechanisms that ensure its continuity. One form of exogamy is dual exogamy, in which two groups engage in continual wife exchange.

Ethnic religion Religion defined by the ethnicity of its adherents

In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are often distinguished from universal religions, such as Christianity or Islam, which are not limited in ethnic, national or racial scope.

Consanguinity Property of being from the same kinship as another person

Consanguinity is the property of being from the same kinship as another person. In that aspect, consanguinity is the quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person.

Interfaith marriage, sometimes called a "mixed marriage", is marriage between spouses professing different religions. Although interfaith marriages are most often contracted as civil marriages, in some instances they may be contracted as a religious marriage. This depends on religious doctrine of the two party's religions; some of which prohibit interfaith marriage, but others allow it in limited circumstances.

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Marriage law area of law concerned with marriage

Marriage law refers to the legal requirements that determine the validity of a marriage, and which vary considerably among countries. See also Marriage Act.

Cousin marriage Marriage between those with common grandparents or other recent ancestors

A cousin marriage is a marriage where the partners are cousins. The practice was common in earlier times, and continues to be common in some societies today, though in some jurisdictions such marriages are prohibited. Worldwide, more than 10% of marriages are between first or second cousins. Cousin marriage is an important topic in anthropology and alliance theory.

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Interfaith marriage in Judaism was historically looked upon with very strong disfavour by Jewish leaders, and it remains a controversial issue among them today. In the Talmud and all of resulting Jewish law until the advent of new Jewish movements following the Jewish Enlightenment, the "Haskala", marriage between a Jew and a gentile is both prohibited, and also void under Jewish law.

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Marital conversion is religious conversion upon marriage, either as a conciliatory act, or a mandated requirement according to a particular religious belief. Endogamous religious cultures may have certain opposition to interfaith marriage and ethnic assimilation, and may assert prohibitions against the conversion of one their own claimed adherents. Conversely, they may require the marital conversion of those who wish to marry one of their adherents.


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Arranged marriage is a type of marital union where the bride and groom are selected by individuals other than the couple themselves, particularly by family members such as the parents. In some cultures a professional matchmaker may be used to find a spouse for a young person.

Consanguine marriage is marriage between individuals who are closely related. Though it may involve incest, it implies more than the sexual nature of incest. In a clinical sense, marriage between two family members who are second cousins or closer qualifies as consanguineous marriage. This is based on the gene copies their offspring may receive. Though these unions are still prevalent in some communities, as seen across the Greater Middle East region, many other populations have seen a great decline in intra-family marriages.

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Homogamy is marriage between individuals who are, in some culturally important way, similar to each other. It is a form of assortative mating. The union may be based on socioeconomic status, class, gender, ethnicity, or religion, or age in the case of the so-called age homogamy.

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  2. "Worldwide search for asthma clue". BBC News. 9 December 2008. Archived from the original on 23 November 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  3. Ruder, Katherine 'Kate' (July 23, 2004). "Genomics in Amish Country". Genome News Network.
  4. Dr. Joseph Adebayo Awoyemi (14 September 2014). Pre-marital Counselling In a Multicultural Society. pp. 75–. ISBN   978-1-291-83577-9.
  5. Waters, Bella (2009). Armenia in Pictures. Minneapolis, MN: Learner Publishing Group. p. 25. ISBN   9780822585763.
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  7. Gay y Blasco, Paloma. "Gitano Evangelism: the Emergence of a Politico-Religious Diaspora" (PDF). Index of working papers. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  8. Manijeh, Maghsudi (1 January 2011). "THE FUNCTION OF MARRIAGE CUSTOMARY LAW AMONG TURKMEN OF IRAN". 2 (4): 25–39. Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018 via en.journals.sid.ir.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. Kiddushin 68b
  10. Vellian 1986b, p. 18-19.
  11. Qamar et al. 2002, p. 1119.
  12. Açikyildiz, Birgül (2014-12-23). The Yezidis: The History of a Community, Culture and Religion. I.B.Tauris. ISBN   9780857720610.
  13. Gidda, Mirren. "Everything You Need to Know About the Yazidis". TIME.com. Retrieved 2016-02-07.