The Indian Online Matrimonial Market
von Fritzi-Marie Titzmann
Indian matrimonial websites, as a new and popular medium for seeking marriage partners, have millions of users and have become increasingly important in India’s marriage market as of the late 1990s. Despite their traditional approach, evident in their structure and design, these online spaces nevertheless reflect new dimensions of media usage and choice of partners. They show the active intervention of people in their own future planning. By assuming a basic connection between the growing media access and profound changes within contemporary Indian society, this article links media-based changes in matchmaking to an overall social change in post-liberalization India. With new lifestyles and social realities, notions regarding marriage, love, and gender roles are gradually being reworked. The analysis of the online matrimonial market and how it has been appropriated, offers remarkable insights into these dimensions of social change. Ninety percent of India’s marriages are still termed as ‘arranged,’ as opposed to the category of ‘love marriage.’ But the varied ways in which many young Indians engage with matrimonial media show that this dichotomy of terms needs urgent revision. Increasing social, physical, and media mobilities serve in manifold ways as a key factor in social change, particularly with regard to women and marriage. The pervasive gender image of the “New Indian Woman” is an influential role model in online representations as well as in personal narratives. She combines a modern lifestyle with cultural rootedness and makes way for new forms of subjectivity and agency. In the context of changing patterns and concepts, the ideological difference between agency and choice with regard to decision-making in matchmaking emerges as another crucial point for discussion. While agency emphasizes the capacity to act, choice is connoted by a consumerist viewpoint. But the explicitly new aspect about a medialised marriage market is the progressively interactive nature of online matrimonial media.
Der Artikel ist im Asian Journal for Women´s Studies (AJWS), Vol. 19, No. 4 (2013) erschienen.