1155 Observatory Dr, Madison, WI 53706
Assistant Professor, Sociology
University of Toronto
The literature from the Middle East and North Africa holds that many youth get stuck in a phase of ‘wait adulthood’ while they struggle to afford the housing, furniture, appliances, celebrations, and jewelry considered necessary to establish a new marital union. In semi-structured interviews with 66 Egyptian men and women who were engaged to be married, I found that many marriages were postponed when young couples were unable to make the matrimonial transactions required by custom. However, I argue that normative barriers are no less important than material barriers to marriage in this context. Matrimonial transactions could not be reduced or forgone because they communicated important meanings related to class and gender. Young couples were keenly aware that failure to live up to the material standards of their social circles would be met with social disapproval and negative judgements about their personal qualities, making such outlays appear to be compulsory rather than optional.
Rania Salem is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Her teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of the fields of gender, family, economic sociology, development and the Middle East. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Princeton University.