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It's one of those words with which most people are familiar, but have vastly differing opinions of what it means. It summons visions of men women with small tokens of affection and asking their hand in marriage on bended knee.
For social scientists, studies of courtship usually look at the process of "mate selection." (Social scientists, among whom I number myself from time to time, will never be accused of being romantics.) For the purpose of this article the , prior to the early 20th century, courtship involved one man and one woman spending intentional time together to get to know each other with the expressed purpose of evaluating the other as a potential husband or wife.
Prior to the 20th century, when we talked about courtship we used language and metaphors of home and family: system of courtship that played itself out in the entertainment culture and public square largely was understood and described by the advice and "expert" class with metaphors taken from modern industrial capitalism.It's as if those who wrote and commented on male-female relationship had stopped reading the Song of Solomon and Jane Austen in favor of Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.The new courtship system gave importance to This new language of courtship had great symbolic importance and continues to shape the way we think, speak and act concerning relationships to this day.There is too much that could be said here, so I'll be brief.Simply put, with the onset of the widespread use of chemical and other means of birth control, the language of procreation — of having children — was separated from the language of marriage. of Chicago ethicist Leon Kass argues in his chapter on courtship in , under the old system of courtship, marriage and bringing a child into the world were inextricably linked. With the ever decreasing risk of pregnancy, having sex and being married were no longer tied together.