Marriage and Romanticism attitudes among South Asians and South East Asian

Aberamy Sivalogananthan
Posted September 22, 2014 from Sri Lanka

In South Asia, and South East Asia marriage is considered a norm (Ono, 2003). However these days the norm has been changing due to several reasons such as globalization, modernization and exposures to different cultures (Netting, 2006). In the beginning, arranged marriages were considered a common norm in Asian societies (Allendorf & Ghimire 2013; Cormack, 1961; Shah, 1961, Kurian, 1974 as cited by Zaidi & Shuraydi, 2002). Later, the traditional norm changed to romantic relationships and there were clear transition pattern observed in South Asian societies (Netting, 2003). However, in this era researchers have observed some patterns among the young generation where non- marriage seen as an option. According to Jones (2005), the younger generation is exposed to different kinds of cultures. The western culture seem to support them to have different attitudes on non- marriages. In addition, expressing romanticism or love life was not common in South Asian societies, but it is a common act in South East Asia. However, migration or exposure to different kinds of new things impacts the younger generations’ ways of expressing romanticism. Where in western culture, expressing love is an accepted concept and is considered an important element for mate selection, in South Asian societies it is not encouraged (Rao & Rao 1976; Zaidi & Shuraydi, 2002). While in western culture, the concept of love is central, in Indian society, “love was not necessary as a basis for mate selection” (Fox, 1961:251 as cited by Rao & Rao, 1976). This paper analyzes the amount of time spent studying abroad and acceptance towards marriages among South Asians, level of acceptance of marriages among South Asians and South East Asian, as well as level of romanticism South Asians and South East Asians, The main purpose of the study was that to identify some key reasons of changes in attitudes of marriages. Personally, I observed that some youths’ attitudes or ways of thinking about marriage have changed though the societies where they live still consider marriage a traditional norm and everyone has to get married. This paper is not the first paper, which examines South Asian young people’s attitudes towards marriages. Rao and Rao (1976) explored the attitudes of college students in India, Netting (2006) studied Indian Canadian youth choosing between love and arranged marriages. However, both of the studies are limited to one country, two religious groups and a narrow age range of students. This study explores multiple South Asian countries and the changing attitudes towards marriages in this country. The literature review addresses time spent studying abroad and acceptance towards marriages, as well as attitudes about non- marriages between South Asian and South East Asians as well as romanticism level among South Asian and South East Asians. Time spent studying abroad and acceptance towards marriages A very limited number of studies have been conducted to find out the relation of time spent in foreign universities and attitudes of marriage in South Asian younger generation. In South Asian societies, the traditional norm is that spouses do not have any opportunities to participate in the decision making regarding their married life. However, a few studies have found that the amount of time that the new generation spends studying in abroad changes their attitudes towards marriages (Jones, 2005). Western education: Some researchers contend that the western education system abroad influences the younger generations’ marriage choices (Medora, al, 2002). When young people who are away from their homes are educated in western ways then they gradually develop individualism as an ideology among themselves. Due to a part of, South Asian society known as collectivism, people make decisions and act according to group dynamics. However, individualism helps them to make independent decisions about their marriages as well as disagree with arranged marriages (Netting 2006). In one study, 27 Indo-Canadian youths were interviewed in order to find out their attitudes towards marriages. The respondents included people from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and Fiji who reported that they did not have thoughts of getting married in particular time as the societies expect them to do so. In addition, Fuller and Narasimhan (2008) found out that younger generation who moved to western countries from Vattimas, in India try to avoid the marriages when they return to their home country. According to the researchers, the younger generation has liberal views on other cultures. However, the research do indicates that ‘effective individualism’ (Stone, 1990, ‘emotional stratification’( Stone, 1990: 151), and possessive individualism’ ( Stone, 1990: 181-2 as cited by Fuller & Narasimhan 2008) contribute to the fact that younger generation avoid marriages because of the knowledge from western education. Moreover, Allendorf and Ghimire (2012), pointed some researchers suggested that education is more related to marital choices ( Amato, et al.., 2003 as cited by Allendorf and Ghimire (2012). Specifically, in Nepal modern education plays a role in changes in marriage choices of the young generation (Allendorf & Ghimire (2012). In addition, Netting (2006) pointed out that, when young generation of South Asians in Canada gradually develop individualism through western education values, they get greater independence in their marriage choice as well as they have different attitudes towards it( Ghimire, et al.,2006,Hoelter,et al., 2004, Thornton, 2005 as cited by Allendorf & Ghimire 2002). Non- marriages attitudes among South Asian vs South East Asians: Marriages in South Asian society are a common norm, which relate with traditional, believes and practices. According to Jones (2005), past decades due to some economic changes, such as increase of GDP in South Asian societies, there has been an increase non-marriage level where as South East Asian Societies do not have much expectations in marriages. For instance, in Myanmar and Philippines, people do not bother about marriages and non marriage is common (Jones, 2005). Women access to education: In South East Asia acceptance of marriages decreases when a large amount of women and young girls get access to education systems. There were several studies that suggested that educated women in South East Asia has high level of non -marriages attitudes. For instance, according to Jones (2005), in Thailand one by five educated women were still did not marry in their age of 40s. In addition, in early 1990s one by four of university students aged 35-44 were still single in Singapore (Jones, 2005). This illustrates that attitudes of accepting marriages is less in South East Asians societies than South Asians societies. In contrast, in South Asian countries women still get married as the age comes though they may be well educated. In addition, the author mentioned that it might occur due to the social norm of getting marry in South Asian societies on particular time (Jones, 2005). Economic growth: Over the past few decades, changes of economic crisis affect non- marriage attitude among South Asians and South East Asians. However, there were not much changes in attitudes of marriages in South Asia, but it affects in South East Asia population of taking decision of marriages. According to Jones (2005), due to high level of economic growth in South East Asian countries, lead youth to engage in several extraordinary development sectors. As a result, amount of non-marriages increases in those countries ( Ogawa, Jones and Williamson 9eds). 1993: Mason (ed)., 2001 as cited by Jones 2005). In addition, Jones (2005) discovered that South East Asian female and male do not have valid reason for the attitude of non- marriage. Only one justification has given by the author was that South East Asians want to change their lives into urban living, which let them to change their attitudes towards marriages. In addition, a study done by Ono (2003) mentioned that countries such as, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal women tend to avoid marriage because of high level role differentiation in industrial work, stress and low wages ( Santow & Bracher, 1994: Sweeney, 2002 as cited by Ono, 2003). Romanticism among South Asian and South East Asians There were not many researches on the topic of romanticism in South Asian and East Asian regions. One of the main reason could be in term of South Asian countries people not tend to express the feeling of love towards others. Most of the studies based on western countries pointed out the comparison between Asian and western countries in term of expressing love. For example, one of the study indicates that, USA younger people tend to express their love compare to younger people from India ( Triandis, 1990 as cited by Larson 1988 as cited by Medora & Larson, 2002). There are some researches has taken by some researchers on gender differences on expression romanticism (Sharp & Ganong, 2000; Sporakowski, 1968; Larson 1988 as cited by Medora & Larson, 2002). In addition, one of the cross cultural studies, the outcome found out that, USA younger generation tend to show romanticism compare to Turkey and India (Medora & Larson, 2002). In addition, Traditional norms in Asia do not allow young people (bride and groom) to make many decisions before or during their married life. It could support a reason why South Asians do not express their love towards their partners. Even in case of marriages, the majority of marriages in Asia are arranged marriages (Kurian, 1991 as cited by Zaidi & Shuraydi, 2002), According to Rao and Rao (1976), in arranged marriage is treated as an agreement between two families who are previously strangers rather than two individuals. Families (parents and relatives) consider the couples needs, desires and future expectations about their married life secondary. Instead, families prioritize the interests and benefits of family reputation in society (Kurian, 1979; Dion & Dion, 1996 as cited by Zaidi & Shuraydi, 2002). Most of the time, couples meet each other for the first time on the day of the wedding, which have positive and negative influences in their future, married life. Which illustrate that the younger generation do not get chance to express their romanticism. In contrast, South East Asian countries do not have any stick social stigmas in term of expressing romanticism. As one of the study base on Bangkok metropolitan region, indicates that the younger generation showed their interest of showing their love towards their love mates ( Jones, 1997 as cited by Jones, 2005). Since there were not much studies in the particular field happen last ten years it was hard to find latest conditions of the both countries situation on the level of romanticism. Current Study Not much research has been done to look at differences on attitudes towards marriages in South Asia and South East Asia. Thus, my study trying to look if there are any differences in both regions populations’ attitude regarding marriages. The Hypothesis of the study are 1. The amount of time spent studying abroad increase and acceptance towards marriages among South Asians decreases. 2. Higher acceptance of attitudes towards marriages among South Asians than in South East Asians 3. Level of Romanticism among South East Asian higher than the women in South Asian women. Method Participants Stratified sampling was conduct by using students ID cards from Asian University for Women classes of Access Academy, UG1, 2, 3, and 4 in order to select participants for this study. The stratified sampling ensured representation of 15 countries at AUW and got 51 students as participants for the study. Personal request emails were sent to selected participants to participate in the study. During the spring break, three sections of data collection scheduled by researcher for the study. Participants in this study were voluntary and participants could withdraw from the study at any point without giving any reasons. Before, participants took part in the study participants’ information form was provided. Each participant has been informed about the study, which has been approved by Asian University for Women Institutional Review Board (AUWIRB). In order to maintain anonymity participants did not ask to sign in consent form. Furthermore, the research took place in one of the classrooms in Asian University for Women as four sections. As an appreciation, the class organized dinner for all the participants for their time.

Instruments Demographic scale: This scale collected participants’ age, country, level of year at AUW, time spent in AUW, social and economic class in the demographic survey. The romanticism scale: This scale had five questions where participants had to state their opinions from strongly agree to strongly disagree. It had some statements, which participants asked to stay their status regarding it. For instance, “Economic security should be considered before selecting a marriage partner” and A deep love for another can compensate for differences in religious and economic back ground” which measure participants romanticism level. In addition, the scale starts from 1-5 so participants has to state their answers according that number scale. Marital attitude scale: This scale was created in order to observe a person’s present ideas and thoughts on marriage (Braaten & Rosén, 1998). It has 23 statments and participants have to answer whether they strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with statements. The survey includes some statments such as, “People should marry” and “Marriage provides companionship that is missing from other types of relationships” (Braaten & Rosén, 1998). In addition, in the measurement have some instructions such as there are some questions which suppose to revise in order to find the answers. Procedure When selected participants agreed to participate in the study, time for group section scheduled during the spring break and after it. During the group section, the purpose of the study and other potential information regarding the study was communicated. Participation consent form provided however, participants did not sign in order to keep the anonymity. After that, the survey questions were passed to them to answer it. It took almost one to two hours to finish answering the questions. During the section, researcher was presented and answered to students’ questions regarding the surveys. Ethical Issues: There are some ethical concerns, which need to be address in my study. The reason for taking ethical consideration in this study was to make sure that the study was not harmful to participants. While I believe that my study did not bring any harm to participants, I have taken several steps to minimize risks in this study. Since my study focuses on students’ attitudes regarding marriages, my participants may not feel comfortable sharing what they really feel about it because of a potential dilemma how they perceive their tradition. To help reduce discomfort and anxiety as well as to protect the participants, no personal identification information was recorded. I already made sure to inform our participants about the study, the significance of the study and all relevant information related to the study including benefits, risks and how the research findings will be used. First, if they had any concerns about my study I would answers their questions. Second, I needed to respect my participants’ emotions, concerns and thoughts rather than thinking about the outcome for my research. Third, keeping confidentiality and anonymity of the participants was very important, so once I finish analyze my data I will destroy my primary data with the advice of field supervisor (Prf.Sharon Flicker) in order to keep the privacy of my participants. Moreover, if at any point my participants’ plan to drop out from my research or if they do not want to use their data in my paper I will respect their thoughts and I will not use the information. However, I did not have many ethical concerns during the period of data collection.

Result Overview of Analyses: Three set of scales were conducted. First, it analyzes the relation between amount of time spent studying abroad and acceptance towards marriages among South Asians. The next analysis is on the higher acceptance of attitudes towards marriages among South Asians than in South East Asians. Finally, I analyzed on the level of romanticism among South East Asian women and South Asian women. Hypothesis 1: The amount of time spent studying abroad increase and acceptance towards marriages among South Asians decreases. The hypothesis one variables between Marital attitude and Time spent in AUW. My first hypothesis tested the relationship between the amount of time spent studying abroad and their acceptance towards marriages among South Asians. The result showed that there is a positive correlation between the two variables: time spent abroad and acceptance towards their marriages. However, it is not a strong co-relation. The P-value is 0.358 which indicates that this positive correlation between my two variables in this hypothesis is not significant. Hypothesis 2 Higher acceptance of attitudes towards marriages among South Asians than in South East Asians. The hypothesis did not show significant result. In case of 2nd hypothesis, as there will be a higher acceptance of attitudes towards marriages among South Asians than in South East Asians did not get significant result. The data shows p value as.219 that is higher than p < 0.05. This hypothesis is not significant. Hypothesis 3 Level of Romanticism among South East Asian higher than the women in South Asian women. In case of my third hypothesis, South East Asian women will have high romanticism where South Asian women will have lower level of romanticism did not have significant result too. This analysis also tested among the p value is .424 indicates that this hypothesis is not significant. In term of first hypothesis, correlation method used to find out the answer, where for the second and the third hypothesis t-test used to find out the answer, however, I have done f-test to see were there any significant result could occur, but it did not give any significant results. Discussion Section My findings not significant in case of three hypotheses in this study. As my first hypothesis mentioned the amount of time spent studying abroad increase, acceptance towards marriages among South Asians decreases did turn out as I assumed. As well as, the image of higher acceptance of attitudes towards marriages among South Asians than in South East Asians and romanticism among South East Asian women and South Asian women did not have significant outcomes. The data thus, appear to provide is contrary to the findings of other research in the past. The data concerning South Asian versus South East Asian romanticism and desire to marry appear to provide some contradictory patterns. South Asians tended to have high romanticism and South East Asians had low romanticism. It is interesting to speculate on possible reasons why the levels of time spent studying abroad, desire to marry levels of expressed romanticism, have different patterns in regions studied. One possibility is that the younger generations change their attitudes since they get chances to explore the world more nowadays compare to in the past. Most of the time, they do not value the tradition and culture of marriages. Specifically, participants from different socio-economic backgrounds get opportunities to experience or explore other culture might influence them to break from their norm concerning marriages. A possible explanation for this unexpected finding is due to the fact that the sample size was small. It does not actually represent the population because the study had (N=51) sample size. For example, when I analyze South Asians verses South East Asian, I did not actually have much samples to represent the South East Asian in the data (N=9). In addition, some of the questions in the survey were not answered by the participants, which created the data error and impact on the result. Strengths and Limitations: The current study has several strengths and limitations. Standardized survey questionnaires used in the study, which make the study reliable and valid. As the researcher, I tried to get sample size from both regions in South Asia and South East Asia. In addition, survey questions were in English and the participants were strong enough to report their answers in the language. In addition, I would like to mention about according to one of the hypothesis, I did not ask my participants opinion what to do they think about marriage? I feel it would be help full that if I get that data in first hand before I analyze their attitudes on marriage. The study was also limited because of some measurements, limited time, and sample size. I used the measure of the Marital Attitude Scale, which does not have the option of neutral. However, I added it in the scale, because in some point it seemed that participants might feel uncomfortable to answer the question. Since I included in that option I feel that it could make some errors in the data. Furthermore, when participants answer the question, I have found that most of them had difficulties to understand the question which led them to not to give the full effort to answer the questions. They were particularly; resistance to answering questions about their personal life. Future research: Finally, I had some troubles my hypothesis due to the error of choosing the scales. Therefore, I had to change hypothesis which let me to explore different thoughts and ideas. I did not have much time to recollect the data in this point. Another interesting avenue for future research is to examine the out well-begin of students and their parenting styles in the future since the data and the outcomes seems so interesting. Conclusion Attitudes concerning the younger generations’ marriage over time influences by several factors. Cultural norms and traditional practices affect the marital choice the younger generation, who tend to challenges it. However, this study showed a positive correlation between the amounts of time spent studying abroad and acceptance of marriages among participants. In addition, my second and third hypotheses were rejected by the data. Furthermore, attitudes towards arranged marriage or love marriage did not differ in the study. In addition, small sample size also made some changes in data outcome. Thus, more research is needed with larger population to understand the attitudes towards marriages between South East Asian and South Asians.

References Allendorf, K., & Ghimire, D. J. (2013). Determinants of marital quality in an arranged marriage society. Social science research, 42(1), 59-70. Braaten, E. B., & Rosén, L. A. (1998). Development and validation of the Marital Attitude Scale. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 29(3-4), 83-91.doi: 10.1300/J087v29n03_05 Fox, G. L. (1975). Love match and arranged marriage in a modernizing nation: Mate selection in Ankara, Turkey. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 180-193. DOI: 10.2307/351042 Fuller, C. J., & Narasimhan, H. (2008). Companionate marriage in India: the changing marriage system in a middle‐class Brahman subcaste. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 14(4), 736-754. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2008.00528.x Jones, G. W. (2005). The" flight from marriage" in south-east and east Asia.Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 93-119. Lee, G. R., & Stone, L. H. (1980). Mate-selection systems and criteria: Variation according to family structure. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 319-326. doi: 10.2307/351229 Medora, N. P., Larson, J. H., Hortacsu, N., Hortagsu, N., & DAVE, P. (2002). Perceived attitudes towards romanticism; a cross-cultural study of American, Asian-Indian, and Turkish young adults. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 155-178. Netting, N. S. (2006). Two-lives, one partner: Indo-Canadian youth between love and arranged marriages. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 129-146. Ono, H. (2003). Women's Economic Standing, Marriage Timing, and Cross‐National Contexts of Gender. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(2), 275-286. DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2003.00275.x Rao, V. P., & Rao, V. N. (1976). Arranged marriages: An assessment of the attitudes of the college students in India. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 433-453. Zaidi, A. U., & Shuraydi, M. (2002). Perceptions of arranged marriages by young Pakistani Muslim women living in a Western society. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 495-514.

Comments 1

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  • Tan Ching
    Sep 23, 2014
    Sep 23, 2014

    After reading your article, I am reminded of a comment I heard recently when I went for a road trip for a day with the church group, to Malaysia. We were then talking about marriages in Singapore, about the rising rate of singlehood among the locals...when an old lady said that "Even ladies nowadays can also be opting to stay single, not only guys already!" Does this comment meant that gals are expected to get married, and maybe for guys...staying single as compared to gals, is considered cooler for such decision but for women who remain old, unmarried hags? Sigh!!! I am not married, and probably will stay so. Once bitten, twice shy !!!

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