Welcome back to Science Sundays! (I feel like that should have some theme music or something.) Today, I thought I'd go a little more anthropological and talk about mating systems and the different ways they are represented in human societies. Basically, the way humans form bonds and pairings to raise a family. But before I do that, I am going to share a tiiiiny little bit of promo, okay?
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Okay, back to mating systems :) When most people think about this, the pair-bond that is most common in Western society is what often comes to mind, but there is actually quite a bit of variety. When primates are studied, this becomes even clearer (especially as primates are so closely related to us evolutionarily). The main reason for the variety that exists is that environments are not all created equal. It is much easier to make a living in a rich valley than the desert. And because primates, and humans, especially in the past (pre-agriculture) are so reliant on how much food we can obtain to survive, this makes it a big deal.
So what kind of mating systems are there? Well the most commonly known is monogamy. This is where there is a pair-bond between two individuals (usually male and female, but we'll get into homosexuality another day--it's a huge topic that totally deserves its own Science Sunday). There are actually two main categories within this:
|Serial monogamy: our Western version of polygamy?|
-Socially imposed monogamy: this is where a society for whatever reason (usually religion) has laws against taking more than one wife. So, while there may be part of the society that wants to practice another form of marriage or social structure, it is against the law (with varying forms of punishment). In the States, I'm sure everyone can think of a few groups that have had run-ins with the law over taking multiple wives.
|Not modern Mormons, or LDS people,|
contrary to dumb TV shows and
|Polyandry in Tibet.|
There are quite a few different situations where these kinds of mating systems can play into stories. A dystopian novel with a dramatic shift in sex ratio might lead to all kinds of interesting situations. Or, what about exploring a different population with a different type of system? What do you think? Any good story ideas?