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The Development of Marriage

The development of marriage as an ever-changing ritual in society can be projected onto future contexts through the millennial culture and the current social climate. Symbolic Interactionism projects marriage to be influenced by the environment and hence, the future of marriage to be a product of the culture and societal values. The increasing values of capitalist ideals and the rise in cohabitating relationships severely influence the projection of marriage in Generations Y and Z by offering alternatives to the ‘traditional’ union and the symbols associated within marriage itself.

The market economy has played a crucial role in the changing importance of human social institutions like marriage overtime. Through the analysis of the right-wing embracement of the dynamism of the free market and its power to expand the range of human freedom, it is obvious that modern-day family lifestyles and marriages will alter as a result of the powers of the market.

The change in the fundamental functions of marriage and the family through the degree of separation from market and household production in the Baby Boomer generation and the constitutional democracy within Australia, Gen Y and Gen Z are able to create marriages based off of “emotional and psychological compatibility.” This is further evident in the Gen Y and Gen Z responses in the questionnaire and focus group, depicting the marriage union to be no longer about convenience or forced on by societal pressures but evidently a choice.

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Through technological innovation within production and the market-driven economic growth increasing the demand for labour, it allows for the growth in the autonomy of individuals and the increased human freedom in society- effectively projecting marriage as an option, not a necessity. Through the ideals of capitalism and the dynamism of the modern economy, it is evident that the social institution of marriage beneficially changes to accommodate for the change in societal values.

The consumerist and capitalist nature of society has influenced the rise in alternative methods of marital commitment. This is clearly shown in the evolution of the ‘traditional’ wedding from one of religious, humble beginnings to an extravagant celebration. As individuals are getting married later and when the individuals are financially stable, the wedding has changed meaning alongside the marriage it represents to one that encompasses the values of modern society.

The prevailing influence of pop-culture on the social culture within Gen Y and Z has effectively influenced the presentation of the wedding as a party and not a ‘traditional’ vow in the presence of God. This is evident in the primary research, focus group response which participant E said “Pop-culture and the rise in influential reality stars explains the decline in traditional marital values and has influenced weddings to be an excuse for a party and not a celebration of permanent love.” Although this response was commonly shared across all generations, participant E was identified as a traditionalist who was deeply religious which influenced their personal ideal of marriage and dream wedding to encompass the individual’s personal values.

Due to the predominant secularisation in society and the rise in the social media reality star influence on social culture, marriage has become less permanent and the wedding has become less conventional. A total of 27% of Australian marriages in 2016 were of religious background whilst 73% were conducted by a civil celebrant further detailing the evolution of marriage and weddings to be influenced by the modernisation and secularisation of society.

This is further impacted by the capitalist nature of the 21st century seen in the average cost of an Australian wedding to be $51245 and on the increase. Although the presentation of weddings and marriages have dramatically changed overtime to incorporate consumerism and secularised culture, it is assumed that this will continue onto future contexts due to the increase in economic stability and the nature of modern society.

Due to weddings and modern marriages being driven by of the consumerist nature and culture of society, it has become less appealing to Gen Y and Gen Z as seen in the 4282 decline in marriages in 2016. As a result of the rise in cohabitation and the legal recognition of cohabiting and de-facto couples to have the same legal rights as marital relationships, the marital ritual has evolved to a less important pillar in society.

The increased popularity of marriage alternatives has ultimately influenced marriage as a symbol in society to be one that encompasses new beginnings. This is described by participant G as “A positive step into the future through the incorporation of couples that do not subscribe to the ideals of social institutions.” As society progresses and marriages are no longer ‘cookie cutter’ but proactively encompass alternative methods, marriage in future contexts is expected to further decline.

However, through the analysis of patterns and trends of the various generations, ‘love’ is seen as the prevailing and continuing factor despite the changing forms of commitment. Gen Y and Z have the freedom to choose from various options void of judgement and are able to commit for compatibility and not for convenience- projecting marriage to be fluid in the social and culture realms of the future.

Despite marriage being a predominant and traditional factor in society across the medium of time, it is interpreted and altered to best accommodate for the environment. Due to the rise in human freedom as a result of the economic advancements in society and the change in the presentation of weddings, alternative methods of commitment seem to be gaining popularity within the future of this sacred ritual. Cohabitation and de-facto relations are increasing, effectively changing the presentation of the tradition to be non-traditional. The society and millennial culture will evidently influence marriage in future contexts to be continually changing as impacted by the implications of the environment and time.