The objective of this study was to analyze the ways that South Asian and American patterns of dating and marriage were combined in the norms and behavior of Pakistani and Indian students at the College of Wooster. A qualitative, open-ended survey with questions on background, dating and marriage was sent to 67 students whose horne addresses were in India or Pakistan, and 19 surveys were returned. Six interviews were also conducted. Results showed strong heterogeneous tendencies in short-term dating, related to parental pressure and subgroups in the sample; and strong homogeneous tendencies in marriage-oriented relationships. Education was confirmed as a form of dowry, channeling parental wealth into daughters, marking status, giving economic security to women, and serving as a vehicle for social mobility through upward marriages. Respondents gave expanded definitions of arranged marriage including self-selected, parent-approved marriages and parent-arranged dating. Finally, South Asians at Wooster proved to be in a liminal state and time, conforming completely to neither South Asian nor American norms and theories. Further research is suggested on topics more directly involving parents, family structure, higher education and cultural constructions of courting and marriage in South Asia.


Frese, Pamela


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150

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