Sociology Index


Polygamy is marriage with several spouses, or more than one spouse living at the same time. Monogamy is having only one husband, wife, or sexual partner living at the same time. Polygamy is the practice or custom by which one man has more than one wife, or one woman has more than one husband, at the same time. The term polygamy covers both Polygyny and Polyandry. Polygamy is a marriage structure in which there is more than one spouse at a time.

Polygyny is polygamy in which one man has two or more wives at the same time. Polyandry is polygamy in which one woman has more than one husband at one time.

Defining the Problem of Polygamy in America - Snyder, James. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Midwest Political Science Association.
Abstract: Polygamy has been defined in widely differing terms since the 1800?s, and in part as a result polygamy policies have been ineffective. This paper will explore how changes in the problem definition of polygamy affect the policies under consideration.

They Ain't Whites; They're Mormons': An Illustrated History of Polygamy as Race Treason - MARTHA M. ERTMAN, University of Maryland Law School
Abstract: Legal doctrines banning polygamy grew out of nineteenth century Americans' view that Mormons betrayed the nation by engaging in conduct associated with people of color. This article reveals the racial underpinnings of polygamy law by examining cartoons and other antipolygamy rhetoric of the time. Polygamy, they reasoned, was natural for people of color but so unnatural for whites as to produce a new, degenerate race, licentious and submissive to despotism. The article suggests that the tension between status and contract, together with anthropologist Edward Said's concept of Orientalism, bridge the seemingly separate issues of Mormon polygamy and racial inferiority.

On the Evolution of Polygamy: A Theoretical Examination of the Polygamy Threshold Model - Susan Ptak, Michael Lachmann
Abstract: The polygamy threshold model states that if costs incurred are less than the benefits gained from a polygamous relationship in terms of male or habitat quality, then polygamy is favored and could evolve. Here we construct mathematical models and computer simulations to evaluate this hypothesis theoretically. In the basic model, there is a single locus with two alleles, where this locus regulates whether or not the female is receptive to polygamy. This basic model is extended mathematically to include cost to the initial female of a polygamously mated male and again to include gene expression in males. The results presented here suggest that the polygamy threshold model is valid in a population genetic context -- in all cases in which the fitness of females that actually mated polygamously is greater than the fitness of monogamous females on poorer habitats, polygamy evolved. However, using this approach revealed interesting dynamics not apparent from the original verbal model. If the trait is expressed in males and females, then polygamy can evolve even if females mating polygamously have a lower fitness than females mating monogamously. In the multiple habitat model, the polygamy allele increases to some equilibrium value above which it experiences no selection. Surprisingly, as the cost to polygamy increases, the equilibrium value of the polygamy allele also increases.

Polygamists Out of the Closet: Statutory Prohibitions Against Polygamy are Unconstitutional Under the Free Exercise Clause as Currently Interpreted - KEITH SEALING, University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law
Abstract: The Romer v. Evans colloquy between Justices Kennedy and Scalia over the applicability of the nineteenth century polygamy cases to the more current debate over gay rights and same-sex marriages was of more than academic interest to the estimated 25,000 to 50,000 Fundamentalist Mormon practitioners of polygamy, as well as the nearly 1,000 Christian polygamists, and Islamic and African practitioners of polygamy. Part I of this Article first discusses at the Romer v. Evans colloquy. Part II briefly explores the history of the mainstream Mormon Church including its adoption and later repudiation of polygamy. Part II also examines non-Mormon polygamy. Part III considers the scriptural basis for polygamy. Part IV analyzes four nineteenth century cases that still apparently stand as anti-polygamy precedent. Part V explores modern Free Exercise Clause jurisprudence and legislation. Part VI argues that the Free Exercise Clause protects religiously motivated polygamy for two separate but interrelated reasons.

Decriminalizing Family: The Private Ordering of Polygamy - Sigman, Shayna. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association
Abstract: This paper argues that legal prohibitions in the United States that bar polygamous practices should be repealed.
First, the paper explores the causes of polygamy from an array of social science fields, including but not limited to, anthropology, economics, history, and sociology. The problems traditionally associated with polygyny, such as poor treatment of women or children, fraud, or sexual assault, are not particular to the plural marriage family structure.
An inquiry into the private ordering of marriage and family structure that focuses on American polygamous practices and is rooted in the empirical realities of that choice reveals that polygamy bans are most likely useless and quite possibly counter-productive in preventing real harms to children, women, and society.
State regulations that ban all forms of polygamy outright may undercut the development of communal norms that can adequately sanction against these failures. The paper concludes that decriminalizing the polygamous family may pave the way for better cooperation, both at the individual and communal level, in the joint effort with the state to protect those who are most vulnerable.

Polygamy, Purdah and Political Representation: Engendering citizenship in 1950s Pakistan
SARAH ANSARI, Modern Asian Studies Cambridge University Press
Copyright Cambridge University Press 2008.
Abstract: This article explores the extent to which during the 1950s campaigns to reform Muslim personal law, which received a boost thanks to the outcry against 1955 polygamous marriage of the then Prime Minister, Muhammad Ali Bogra were linked with wider lobbying by female activists to secure for women their rights as Pakistani citizens alongside men.

Polygamy and genetic equilibrium - Bonney, G. E.; Konotey-Ahulu, F. I. D.
Nature, Volume 265, Issue 5589, pp. 46-47 (1977).
POLYGAMY is the normal practice in indigenous African and Islamic populations. Recently Konotey-Ahulu1 has claimed that polygamy may explain the persistence of some abnormal haemoglobins in these populations. An examination of that claim using a mathematical model shows that polygamy can lead to an equilibrium distribution in gene frequencies only if the male heterozygote tends to acquire more wives than either homozygote-a condition that is shown not to be unlikely in African and Islamic populations.

Response: Who Decides? Harm, Polygamy and Limits on Freedom - Lori G. Beaman?
Nova Religio August 2006, Vol. 10, No. 1, Pages 43–51
ABSTRACT: This essay considers the issue of polygamy in response to Stephen Kent's arguments in an article in this issue. Ultimately, disagreements about religious freedom often emanate not from completely divergent positions, but from differences about the interpretation of boundaries and where they should be drawn. Despite these agreements, there are significant points of departure between Kent and myself, including the characterization of polygamy as inherently abusive, the use of media reports as generalizable data, and the conceptualization of agency of women who choose to live in polygamous relationships.

Extinguishing the Twin Relics of Barbaric Multiculturalism - Slavery and Polygamy - From American Federalism - John Kincaid, Lafayette College - Publius: The Journal of Federalism 2003 33(1):75-92.
Nineteenth-century America experienced fierce battles against two expressions of territorially based multiculturalism: southern slavery and Mormon polygamy. The extermination of Mormon polygamy did not require military intervention; instead, the federal government deployed an array of increasingly coercive legalweapons that set precedents for twentieth-century interventions into the affairs of the constituent states. The battles against slavery and polygamy both reflected federal efforts to liberate persons from the tyranny of places and, as such, signaled a rejection of territorially based multiculturalism in the United States.

Polygamy in African fiction
Abstract: Polygamy in the form of polygyny is still practised all over Africa and remains an obstacle to female emancipation in many countries, including South Africa, where it is recognised legally by the Customary Marriages Act. This article examines the rhetoric surrounding polygamy in a number of African texts, including critical articles.
Thanks to the wide publicity accorded to the Zuma rape trial during 2006, polygamy has been much in the news of late. However, this is an unusual situation.
This situation is typical of African countries, in the majority of which polygamy, in its common form of polygyny, is still widely practised. Polygamy survives as an often fiercely protected symbol of African identity. Of course, polygamy on its own is not solely responsible for the inequality of status between men and women in these societies. This paper, which has been partly responsible for the retention of polygamy as a legal form of customary marriage in South Africa, points out that in a patriarchal world it is the institution of marriage itself which disadvantages women. The fact that women overwhelmingly reject polygamy contradicts the theory that all forms of marriage are equal.
If debate about polygamy is often strangely absent from the media and society in African countries which frequently explore the issue of marriage. As this paper will demonstrate, African novels generally militate against polygamy. Polygamy is revealed as a continual source of female suffering and oppression. The pivotal text in discussions of polygamy in African fiction is Une si longe lettre. This text, because of its apparent rejection of polygamy, has been proclaimed one of the most powerful feminist articulations of the African woman's quest for wholeness.