The Emergence of the Marriage Market
Author: Lindsay Keiter, Pennsylvania State University – Altoona
Comment: Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, University of California – Davis
When did Americans begin using the term “the marriage market,” and what does it tell us about society at the time? This article-in-progress traces the emergence of the concept of marriage as a market subject to supply and demand during the early 19th century. Yet even as they referred to the marriage market, with its impersonal implications, many Americans resisted its complete commercialization. Marriage brokers—professional matchmakers—and matrimonial advertising attracted both clients and controversy. The metaphor of the marriage market reflected the entanglement of the sentimental home created by marriage and the competitive chaos of the expanding antebellum economy.
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