Rituals of dating in america
During the twentieth century, dating spread to other Westernized societies, although it has become increasingly attenuated in the context of the revolution in premarital sexual behavior after the 1960s.
In the early modern world most courtship was supervised by family or other adult community institutions.
Among the wealthy elite, well-orchestrated rituals surrounding elaborate debutante balls and coming-out ceremonies largely assured that family choices would continue to define the horizons of adolescents and young adults as they moved toward a season of courtship.
Thus eighteen- and nineteen-year-old girls were introduced to the proper society from among whom they could choose and be chosen.
At schools, a complex social system that included extracurricular activities, sports competitions, fraternities and sororities, literary activities, beauty contests, and other means to define identity and popularity regulated dating behavior.
At the same time, both dating which led to exclusive attachments and dating which was part of a busy social life included a variety of erotic practices that became a standard part of the expected sexual initiation of twentieth-century youth before the premarital sexual revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s.
These informal controls were able to adapt initially to the emergence in the nineteenth century of the ideal of romantic and to companionship as a replacement for patriarchy in marital values.
More challenging were the dramatic dislocations that accompanied the urban and industrial transformations of the second half of the nineteenth century.
As schools became the arenas for extracurricular clubs, , and other events, they also became the site for spontaneous heterosexual socializing.
Young people developed dating in these new work and educational contexts as a means to order mate selection and to contain the erotic possibilities that the new freedom from adult supervision made possible.
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Both male and female adolescents were also staying in school longer as new school attendance laws began to include more older children.