Explanations of How Love Crosses Class Lines: Cultural Complements and the Case of Cross-Class Marriages

Published

Journal Article

© 2015 Eastern Sociological Society. Sociologists know little about how actors explain their attraction to a partner who grew up in a different social class or why their accounts are likely. This is problematic as one form of social class heterophily is relatively common-heterophily by class origin. Drawing upon data from interviews with college-educated respondents in heterophilous marriages by class origin (n = 60) as well as interviews with college-educated respondents in homophilous marriages by class origin (n = 20), this article shows that respondents in heterophilous and homophilous marriages say that they appreciate their spouse for different reasons. Whereas actors in homophilous relationships by class origin explain their appreciation for their spouse in terms of cultural similarities, respondents in heterophilous marriages by class origin explain their appreciation of their spouse in terms of "cultural complements"-the obverse of the dispositions they dislike in themselves and attribute to their own upbringing. The article theorizes that accounts of cultural complements are enabled by the social organization of culture by class.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Streib, J

Published Date

  • January 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 30 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 18 - 39

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-7861

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0884-8971

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/socf.12143

Citation Source

  • Scopus