The term hypergamy has been used for a long time to describe a matrimonial practice found in some castes of Hindu society. Robert E. Park suggested many years ago the widespread occurrence of hypergamy when he spoke of it as "a principle of human nature" 1 in connection with miscegenation, but he did not elaborate on his insight. The most systematic theoretical treatment of hypergamy is probably Kingsley Davis' article on "Intermarriage in Caste Societies,"2 although the author did not extend his analysis to class societies. 3 The theoretical literature on the subject, then, is still scanty. In the present chapter we shall point to the widespread occurrence of hypergamy and try to make explicit the structural consequences of, and conditions for, the phenomenon.
Hypergamy is a form of marriage in which a woman marries a man of higher social status than her own, or better, than that of her family of orientation. Since the term applies only to marriage, we must reluctantly coin the more generic word hypergenation to cover such practices as concubinage. 4 The main necessary condition for hypergenation is, by definition, status differential. The term "status" in this chapter will refer to relative prestige positions rather than to specific statuses corresponding to roles. When____________________