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  • Author: Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim x
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Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim

The Marriage Route to Migration: of border artistes, transnational matchmaking and imported spouses

In preindustrial society, marriage was part of the family economy and as such a major instrument for building alliances to stabilise or improve status and wealth. It was only in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in Western societies, that romantic love became the normative foundation of marriage. Yet in other parts of the world marriage patterns continue to follow a different script. Moreover, as a result of present-day globalisation and migration, the instrumental value of marriage is spreading again and gaining new importance. Two trends are playing a major role here. On the one hand, as economic and political conditions in many regions of the world deteriorate, many people build their hopes on migration. On the other hand, Western countries try to limit migration by setting up very restrictive rules, with family unification becoming the last chance for entry. In response, young men and women in many parts of the world are redirecting their wishes and ambitions by placing their hopes in marriage, or more specifically, on marriage in accordance with migration rules. Here the first imperative is that the candidate must be a native of the West or a legal resident there.