Homogeneous Faith, Ethnic Diversity: Desirable and Undesirable Traits in a Marital Partner in Nigeria

By 'Dimeji Togunde and Jacob Rinkinen.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper draws on survey data gathered in 2007 from over 2000 students in six Nigerian universities to investigate desirable and undesirable traits in a future marital partner and how these traits vary by gender. Until now, there is no single study in the African context that examines how measures of Westernization and globalization impact qualities desired in a mate. Findings indicate that a vast majority of respondents prefer to select their future marital partner on their own rather than through an arranged marriage. Yet an overwhelming proportion of students are unwilling to marry someone without the consent of their parents. Respondents would prefer not to marry a partner who: does not possess a comparable university education; does not want to have children; lack domestic skills; are not good at cooking; does not believe in God; and practices a different religion. However, respondents are more willing to marry someone who: comes from different tribal/ethnic group or nationality; and has had previous sexual relations. Significant gender differences were found to exist in traits such as domestic skills, age difference between spouses, level of education, parental socio-economic status, and desire to have children. The conclusion is that a simultaneous operation of traditional and contemporary mating dynamics is taking place in Nigeria. The urban-based respondents seem to hold on to some aspects of African traditional culture and practices regarding desirable and undesirable traits in a marital partner. At the same time, the criteria for mate selection are being impacted by forces of Westernization and globalization, such as the internet and foreign mass media.

Keywords: Nigeria, Westernization, Globalization, Traits, Diversity, Mate Selection, Marital Partner

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp.219-238. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 711.824KB).

Prof. 'Dimeji Togunde

Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology/Sociology, and Ethnic Studies Program, Albion College, Albion, Michigan, USA

Dr. ‘Dimeji Togunde received his Ph.D. degree from Cornell University, USA. He is Professor of Sociology and the John S. Ludington Trustees’ Professor of the Social Sciences at Albion College, Michigan. He is Chair of the Department of Anthropology/Sociology and Chair/Director of Ethnic Studies Program.

Jacob Rinkinen

Student, Department of Anthropology/Sociology and Department of Chemistry, Albion College, Albion, Michigan, USA

Jacob Rinkinen is an Albion College Undergraduate majoring in Chemistry (Pre-Med) and Anthropology/Sociology. He is also a research fellow for the Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (FURSCA).

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