Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version

Winter 2002


Southern Communication Journal 67:2 (Winter 2002), pp. 94–109.

doi: 10.1080/10417940209373223


Copyright © 2002 Southern States Communication Association; published by Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


This interpretive study examined how the marriage renewal ritual reflects the social construction of marriage in the United States. Two culturally prominent ideologies of marriage were interwoven in our interviews of 25 married persons who had renewed their marriage vows: (a) a dominant ideology of community and (b) a more muted ideology of individualism. The ideology of community was evidenced by a construction of marriage featuring themes of public accountability, social embeddedness, and permanence. By contrast, the ideology of individualism constructed marriage around themes of love, choice, and individual growth.