Between Tradition and Modernity: Marriage Dynamics in Central Asia

Lesia Nedoluzhko, Stockholm University
Victor Agadjanian, Arizona State University

The demographic literature on union formation in post-communist Europe typically documents retreat from marriage and increase in cohabitation. However, sociological and anthropological studies of post-Soviet Central Asia often point to a resurgence of various traditional norms and practices, including those surrounding marriage. We engage these two perspectives on union formation by analyzing transition to first marriage in Kyrgyzstan both before and after the collapse of the USSR. We examine the dynamics of traditional marital practices among that country’s two main ethnic groups – Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, focusing on trends in arranged marriages and in marriages involving bride kidnapping. The analysis reveals an overall decline in the risks of both types of traditional marriage practices in the post-Soviet era. In fact, although the decline has characterized all marriage types, it was more substantial for traditional marriages. We interpret these trends as evidence of continuing modernization of nuptiality behavior in the region.

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Presented in Session 85: Union Formation across the World