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The Power of the PastUnderstanding Cross-Class Marriages$
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Jessi Streib

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199364428

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199364428.001.0001

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Accounts of Crossing the Class Divide

Accounts of Crossing the Class Divide

Chapter:
(p.42) 3 Accounts of Crossing the Class Divide
Source:
The Power of the Past
Author(s):

Jessi Streib

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199364428.003.0003

This chapter addresses why individuals from different class backgrounds feel compelled to marry. The chapter argues that cultural matching theory and typical uses of exchange theory are unable to explain why adults with different class origins remember feeling drawn to each other. The chapter develops an alternative explanation of accounts of heterophily by class origin. It argues that individuals who share a college degree but not a class origin describe feeling drawn to each other due to “cultural complements,” or the obverse of the sensibility that each partner desired but felt they lacked. Specifically, blue-collar-origin respondents recalled feeling they lacked a sense of stability and ease at achieving and found their partners appealing because they possessed these traits. White-collar-origin respondents remembered feeling they lacked familial intimacy and an ability to disconnect from work; they reported feeling drawn to their blue-collar-origin spouses because they possessed these traits. This chapter suggests that these obverse sensibilities result from blue- and white-collar-origin individuals’ experiences in different social classes.

Keywords:   achievement, class, cultural complements, cultural matching theory, exchange theory, family intimacy, heterophily marriage, stability, work

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