Wedding paradoxes: individualized conformity and the ‘perfect day’

Carter, J. and Duncan, S. (2016) Wedding paradoxes: individualized conformity and the ‘perfect day’. The Sociological Review. ISSN 1467-954X.

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Marriage rates in 21st century Britain are historically low, divorce and separation are historically high, and marriage is no longer generally seen as necessary for legitimate sexual relationships, long-term partnership, or even parenting. Yet at the same time weddings have become more prominent, both as social aspiration and as popular culture. But why have a wedding, especially an ornate, expensive and time consuming wedding, when there appears to be little social need to do so? Similarly, weddings have never been more free from cultural norms and official control - so why do these supposedly unique and deeply personal events usually replay the same assumed traditions? We draw from a small qualitative sample of 15 interviews with White, heterosexual celebrants to address these questions. While existing accounts posit weddings as a social display of success, emphasising distinction, and manipulation by a powerful wedding industry, we argue that weddings involve celebrants necessarily adapting from, and re-serving, tradition as a process of bricolage. This shapes the four major discourses interviewees used to give meanings to their weddings: the project of the couple, relationality, re-traditionalisation and romanticised consumption. At the same time many couples did not want to be distinctively unique, but rather distinctively normal. This is what we call ‘individualised conformity’.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology > BV0590 Ecclesiastical theology > BV0800 Sacraments. Ordinances > BV0835 Marriage
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology
Depositing User: Dr Julia Carter
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2016 13:14
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2017 12:19

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00