Partner Choice and Homogamy in the Nineteenth Century: Was There a Sexual Revolution in Europe?

Leeuwen, M. H. D. & Maas, I., 2002, In : Journal of Social History. 36, 1, p. 101 1 p.

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  • Marco H.D. Leeuwen
  • Ineke Maas
In this article long-term changes in homogamy during industrialization are studied. According to the `sexual revolution thesis' of Shorter industrialization weakened homogamy mainly by changing the preferences of young people. Others point to the importance of changes in social control by parents and peers and in the opportunities of potential marriage partners to meet. Both ethnographic data on bundling and tables of occupational homogamy in Sweden in the nineteenth century are used to describe changes in homogamy and to shed light on potential causes of these changes. In particular it is tested whether homogamy weakened during industrialization and whether homogamy was weaker when parental control was less, as is the case with one parent families. The second claim was substantiated, the first claim only very partially so. Bundling with its clearly marked stages from communal nightly visits to intercourse as a prelude to marriage declined, but the proportion of men and women marrying outside their class did not rise consistently over time as industrialization progressed. Even after taking changing group sizes into account, there were no signs of decreasing homogamy. Thus the data do not support Shorter's theory of an increase in romantic love.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Social History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • 1789-1900, Social conditions, Parental consent, Marriage, Mate selection, History, Europe

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