The institution of marriage or pairing has the potential to be a great progressive force in society. Other than being an avenue to churn the gene pool, it can also even out differences in social rank, economic power, casteist and racial origin. But of course, this is only if such marriages or coupling happens between two people who are rather different in these aspects. In such cases, marriages can result in immediate dissolution of the stigma faced by the lesser privileged of the two. For instance, while affirmative actions have a rather slow effect on removing racial or caste based disparities, inter-racial and inter-caste marriages would work very fast if adopted on a large scale.
However, marriages have played exactly the opposite role. The institution has become the greatest source of conservatism around the world ensuring that socio-economic status, racial makeup, occupational backgrounds, casteist makeup and the resultant disparities, stigmas and attitudes remain as strong as ever. Only 2% of marriages in the
An interesting phenomenon can be seen in the US where the so called most eligible African American males are marrying outside their race which is forcing the African American women to “marry down” with lesser privileged males from their race. Coincidentally, African Americans have witnessed immense improvement in living conditions over the recent years (Significant differences with whites exist and other factors probably played greater role).
So, can one socially engineer marriages between people coming from disparate backgrounds? During most of human history, such marriages or pairings have been a result of oppressive human activities such as enslavement after war or through instinctive decisions of kings to marry commoners. In modern times, some survivors of the Pol Pot regime reported being forced to marry the person sitting next in randomly assorted town hall meetings. On a much smaller scale, members of the Saudi royal family often do marry outside the clan and the group has expanded to 5000 members sharing reportedly 40% of the annual budget of the Saudi government.
Governments have typically forbid inter-racial marriages as in apartheid