Social homogamy, early industrialization, and marriage restrictions in the canton of Lucerne, Switzerland, 1834–75

Seiler, Simon (2018). Social homogamy, early industrialization, and marriage restrictions in the canton of Lucerne, Switzerland, 1834–75. The History of the Family, 24(1), pp. 38-66. Routledge 10.1080/1081602X.2018.1431559

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The modernization thesis assumes decreasing relevance of an individual’s family background to various aspects of modern and industrial life, which should also translate into a decrease in marital homogamy by social origin. However, long-term historical processes are rarely unidimensional and monotonous, and multiple processes may mask one another. For example, although previous research provides evidence for a relationship between degree of industrialization and homogamy, most studies have found no clear time trend. Using new data (N = 1,499) for the Swiss canton of Lucerne from the nineteenth century, data which include occupational status of fathers (HISCAM), this article approaches from two angles the problem of confounding processes. First, changes in marriage restrictions during the period of study are identified as a significant and unmeasurable confounder. Because the timespan of reinforced marriage restriction is known, time trends in homogamy can be modelled to allow partial disentanglement of the effects on homogamy of modernization and marriage restrictions. Second, although there were few direct measures of modernization taken in Lucerne during that period, two parish level measures can be identified: connection to the railway system, and the proportion of factory workers in the population. Using multilevel models with constraint simultaneous equations for both possible directions of explanation, the analyses reveal homogamy effects of industrialization and marriage restrictions that differ by social strata. In the lower and middle strata, homogamy was stronger in rural areas than in the city of Lucerne, while the opposite was true for the upper stratum. Furthermore, homogamy increased with rising levels of marriage restrictions but in lower and middle strata it decreased with industrialization.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Sociology

UniBE Contributor:

Seiler, Simon


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
900 History






[4] Swiss National Science Foundation
[86] IMG Stiftung Bern




Simon Seiler

Date Deposited:

07 May 2018 14:33

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 08:53

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

social homogamy; industrialization; marriage restrictions; 19th century; Switzerland




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