Marriage & Choice In-Class Activity

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View exercise overview

Exercise ID: 1.211
Class size: Any
Level(s): I II III
Source: Produced by HRAF

Learning Objectives

Does the exercise compare 2 or more cultures? Yes
Subject selection: Single subject specified by teacher
Subjects/OCMS, if applicable: Marriage
Region selection: pre-selected
Region, if applicable: Various
Culture selection: Student chooses from pre-selected list
Cultures/OWCs, if applicable: Ganda, Dogon, Masai, Ifugao, Taiwan Hokkein

Classroom Guide

Instructions for navigating eHRAF included? No
Assignments for students to complete in groups? Yes
Assignments for students to complete on their own? Yes
Instructions for Microfiche version? No

Carol R. Ember, Alissa Jordan, Human Relations Area Files

Adapted from Teaching eHRAF Exercise Exercises Using eHRAF World Cultures, Marriage by Carol Ember

Download In-Class Activity PDF



In this exercise, students will read and analyze the concept of marital choice among a variety of societies across the globe.

Exercise Details

  • Time: 45 minutes

Materials Required:

  • HRAF Access
  • Worksheet and pen or other materials for recording answers

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • At the end of this exercise, students will be able to:
  • describe marital partner choice in the context of multiple societies across the world.
  • construct effective and efficient search strategies in eHRAF in order to retrieve data relevant to a specific topic/assignment.

Marriage & Choice

In this exercise, students will read and analyze the concept of marital choice among a variety of societies across the globe.

Research Exercise

Information for answering the following questions can be found by searching for a culture name in combination with the OCM subject category “Arranging a Marriage” in the Add Subjects function of an eHRAF Advanced Search.


Question #1: The Ganda and Dogon differ in how much freedom males and females have in choosing a spouse. Briefly compare their freedom of choice. (10 minutes)


Question 2:  Technically, a Maasai male has free choice in choosing a spouse, but that “choice” is considerably different from what most people expect by “free choice.”

How do Maasai males choose? What is the situation for females? (10 minutes)


Question #3: How does wealth difference affect marriage among Garo and Ifugao societies? (10 minutes)


Question #4:  How have marriage arrangements changed over time for the Taiwan Hokkien? Use Diamond source to answer questions (10 minutes)

Resources: Assignment Rubric, Tips, References

  • The assignment rubric is located in the attached PDF.

Further Reading

  • For more exercises and teaching resources related to human societies past and present, explore Teaching eHRAF.
  • For a more detailed version of this particular exercise with additional questions and activities check out Teaching eHRAF Exercise 1.21, Exercise VII. Marriage by Carol Ember
  • Check out the Advanced Search Tutorial for detailed instructions on conducting searches in eHRAF World Cultures.