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Sandy (Soo Hyun) Lee

Dr. Thea Alvarado
Sociology 1
8 February 2015
Video Analysis
In the video, “Marriage is an Insane Proposal," comedian Aziz Ansari talks about
the institution of marriage and all the symbols society has established with it. Although
he takes on a sarcastic view of marriage, his points show just how absurd marriage can
look if the idea didn’t exist in our society today. Throughout the video, he touches upon
all the different symbols that society has placed on marriage including the ring, the priest,
the cake, and even about the tax benefits. As he discusses each, you start to realize how
man and society really did place a meaning behind each symbol. Even when different
theorists review the institution of marriage, very different meanings arise.
Emile Durkheim, a functionalist theorist, believed that “society was a mix of
interrelated parts where people served different functions in order to maintain stability”
(OpenStax College). In the same way, he would view marriage as a function in society
where people are socialized to carry out their roles to maintain stability. A couple
engages in marriage in order to produce offspring. This development of a family then
functions to help support each other emotionally and physically. The family is the first
step in the socialization process for the children and enables them to become functional
members of society. One item Durkheim wouldn’t agree with in the video is the idea that

marriage is only done for “tax purposes.” He would argue that the reason people get
married is to fulfill their social role and to maintain dynamic equilibrium (Witt).
Although Durkheim would emphasize the need of marriage for society, Karl Marx
and his conflict perspective would focus on the inequalities of marriage (Witt).
Traditionally, man has always been the dominant figure in a marriage. But as societies
have evolved, we see that there has been more of a push for equality. For example, the
woman suffrage movement pushed society to give women the right to vote. When
women were granted this right, this ultimately changed family dynamics as more women
began entering the workforce. Marx would argue that today, marriage is more equal
because women fought to obtain that equality.
Auguste Comte, considered to be one of the fathers of sociology, would use his
“scientific study of social patterns positivism” (OpenStax College). This consisted of
three phases to seek out social truths. Through the first phase, which looks through
theology, Comte would state that when people were trying to validate marriage, they
looked at their religion. The second phase emphasizes analysis from an abstract and
logical standpoint. From this point, people began questioning the rationale behind the
institution. Finally, the third phase is to support the ideas with empirical evidence.
Comte would argue that marriage has gone through these three phases to become what it
is today.
In this video, the symbolic interaction paradigm is most prevalent. For example,
marriage is essentially a promise. However, we started to use different symbols to signify
that promise. For instance, today we look at a ring and immediately associate it with a
bond of marriage. People act towards objects based on meanings they've placed on them.

Marriage now is associated with the wedding ceremony, which includes the priest, the
cake, and even the figurines that sit on top of the cake.
Every theory can take on very different views of the same topic. When looking at
marriage, from Durkheim, Marx, and Comte’s views, one can see how differently each
theorist views it.

Works Cited
OpenStax College, Introduction to Sociology. OpenStax College. 21 June 2012.
<http://cnx.org/content/col11407/latest/>.

Witt, John. SOC. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013. Print.