People have a tendency to marry within their social group or to marry a person who is close to them in status. Although many characteristics play a role in the choice of a spouse, sociologists have most often examined endogamy and homogamy with respect to race/ethnicity, religion, and socioeconomic status. I first give an overview of hypotheses on the causes of endogamy and homogamy. The various hypotheses that have been suggested in the literature can be distinguished as arguments about three more general factors: () the preferences of marriage candidates for certain characteristics in a spouse, () the interference of “third parties” in the selection process, and () the constraints of the marriage market in which candidates are searching for a spouse. Second, I summarize empirical research by answering four questions: () To what extent are groups endogamous and how do groups differ in this respect? () How has endogamy changed over time? () Which factors are related to endogamy? () How do various dimensions of partner choice coincide? Third, I discuss strengths and weaknesses of past research. Strengths include the mass of descriptive work that has been done and the development of a multifaceted theoretical perspective which gives sociological theorizing an edge over psychological and economic theories of partner choice. Weaknesses include the lack of standardization of methods in describing patterns and trends and the relatively weak integration of empirical and theoretical work.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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