Sarah Carol
Like Will to Like? Partner Choice among Muslim Migrants and Natives in Western Europe

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2016: 42, issue 2, pp. 261-276
ISSN: 1369-183X (print); 1469-9451 (online)

The most influential theory on partner choice, from which I will also depart, the theory on assortative mating, starts from the premise that individuals prefer to marry someone who shares certain characteristics denoted by the Greek term ‘homophily’. Religious and ethnic homophily are very important in this context. Consequently, this paper looks at marriages between natives and migrants of different origin, which are at the same time interreligious as the focus is on Muslim migrants. Marriages between natives and migrants from countries with a large Muslim majority have been reported as exceptionally low. Further analyses try to find out what is so exceptional about intermarriage between Muslim migrants and natives and devote attention to levels of individual religiosity, conflicting ideas about family life and relationships, premarital sexuality, attitudes about intermarriage and lastly, the role of parents in the matchmaking process. The latter have been understudied in previous research, as it was mostly not able to go beyond socio-demographic variables. My research provides evidence for all of these factors, but in contrast to earlier research, my analyses show for the first time that parental interference and possibly the importance of value transmission through marriage reduce the likelihood to intermarry.