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Social Problems in Asia (SOCG 218): Week 9

Family and Marriage: non-marriage, early and late marriage, and divorce

 Family Formation as a Personal Choice?

To marry or not to marry? When should someone be married? Who should someone marry to? To divorce or not to divorce? These issues should be considered primarily as personal choices and should not have anything to do with social problems. In what way could they be turned into social issues? Week 9 examines how these personal choices are shaped by external macro level factors, and how the “choices” made could be “harmful” to some parts of society. This week explores family formation and its dissolution through the framework of two social institutions – government and religion.


  1. “The Flight from Marriage.” The Economist, Aug. 20th 2011.
  2. Rindfuss, Ronald R. et al. 2004. “Social Networks and Family Change in Japan.” American Sociological Review 69(6): 838-861.
  3. Wang, Jian. 2013. “To Divorce or not to Divorce: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Court-ordered Divorce Mediation in China.” International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 27(1): 74-96.
  4. “Divorce in Philippines and Malaysia”: Online materials collection.
  5. “Child Marriages”: online materials collection.
  6. Mcloughlin, Claire. 2010. “Helpdesk Research Report: Child Marriage.” Government and Social Development Resource Center
  7. Mohamad, Maznah. 2010. “Making Majority, Undoing Family: Law, Religion and the Islamization of the State in Malaysia.” Economy and Society 39(3): 360-384.

Optional Readings

  1. Jones, Gavin W. 2010. “Changing Marriage Patterns in Asia.” Asia Research Institute, NUS. Working Paper Series No. 131.
  2. Dommaraju, Premchand and Gavin Jones. 2011. “Divorce Trends in Asia.” Asian Journal of Social Science 39: 725–750.
  3. More online information on divorce in the Philippines
  4. “How come you allow little girls to get married? Child Marriage in Yemen” A Human Rights Watch Report 2011. 

Latest Articles from the Journal of Marriage and Family

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Other Resources in the Library

Web resources

1. Too Young to Wed

National Geographic

2. Bangladesh Child Marriage

A documentary by BBC.

3. Nada al-Ahdal would rather die than be forced into marriage

Read more here.

4. 8-year-old Yemeni Child Bride Dies on Wedding Night!

The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy