Plural Marriage for Our Times
A Reinvented Option?, 2nd Edition
by Philip L. Kilbride and Douglas R. Page
August 2012, 240pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38478-3
$53, £40, 46€, A72
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38479-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Polygamy—having more than one spouse at the same time—was once considered a marital practice exclusive to nonwestern populations. Now forms of plural marriage exist in the United States, especially through serial monogamy, sometimes referred to as “slow-motion polygamy.” With the numbers of married Americans dropping quickly and so-called traditional households also declining rapidly, is it time to consider another form of marriage because heterosexual monogamous marriage alone, once the backbone of family life, is failing?

This thoroughly revised second edition offers a child-centered, international perspective as it urges America to de-stigmatize alternate family forms.

In this book’s first edition, Philip L. Kilbride showed polygamy as the preferred marriage pattern in most parts of the nonwestern world and explained how plural marriage is surfacing in western countries to address economic and spiritual crises. In Plural Marriage for Our Times: A Reinvented Option? Second Edition, Kilbride and his coauthor, Douglas R. Page, update and enhance this thesis in light of contemporary circumstances, new studies, and current legal debates.

This new edition examines plural marriage’s benefits for children. It extends the discussion of polygamy and religion, especially the Muslim perspective on marriage and family; considers the illegal polygamy of immigrants; and looks at multiple marriage in African American communities, where “crisis polygamy” is a growing phenomenon. The authors suggest Americans consider plural marriage as a viable practice that can help reduce the divorce rate, better protect women and children, and serve as an alternative to the “fractured family” so prevalent in America today.


  • Includes an extensive bibliography
Philip L. Kilbride, PhD, is professor of anthropology at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. Kilbride coauthored Changing Family Life in East Africa: Women and Children at Risk, with Janet E. Kilbride, and Street Children in Kenya: Voices of Children in Search of a Childhood, with Collette Suda and Enos Njeru.

Douglas R. Page, MBA, is a freelance writer and reporter. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Journal-Gazette, News & Tech, and Bay State Parent. Page has worked for United Press International, the Chicago Sun-Times, and Tribune Media Services. He holds a master's degree in business administration from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and a bachelor's degree from DePauw University, Greencastle, IN.


"Journalist Page joins anthropologist Kilbride (Bryn Mawr) in expanding the first edition (CH, Apr'95, 32-4792) of Kilbride's extremely interesting book that presents the viewpoint that plural marriages could possibly be on the horizon for the US and other countries. The authors present many different cultural, sociological, and moral viewpoints concerning plural marriage and make a strong case for considering it as an alternative for traditional monogamous marriage. They address theology as well as political agendas from all sides, and subjects such as polyamory, swinging, and serial monogamy. In addition, the authors have conducted interviews and done extensive research on the subject from both international and historical viewpoints, and discuss in great detail the possible benefits to families, children, and society as a whole."—Choice, February 1, 2013

"Plural Marriage for Our Times is a provocative and informative survey of polygamy world-wide containing several implications for marriage and the family in the U.S.A. I have used it in the classroom as both a text and supplemental reading with dazzling effect. I have found that students welcome its controversial perspective on options for meeting present and future challenges to durable pair-bonding."—Michael C. Robbins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Missouri

"Professor Kilbride provides a superb analysis of plural marriage as a viable alternative to American serial monogamy. He teaches us tolerance for customs which are widely practiced elsewhere in the world, but rarely understood in the United States. His refreshing child-centered perspective addresses the essential issue of how polygamy impacts the well-being of the family. In short, Professor Kilbride makes us aware of the growing presence of polygamy within the American marital landscape, especially with increased immigration from the Middle East, East Africa, and Southeast Asia."—Janet Bennion, Professor of Anthropology, Lyndon State College; Author of Women of Principle: Female Networking in Contemporary Mormon Polygyny

"Kilbride’s latest edition forces us to separate ‘fact from fiction’ in the debates over polygamy. This work is wonderfully comparative, comprehensively researched and benefits from his astute work as an ethnographer among several different ethnic and religious groups in sub-Saharan Africa and the U.S. What’s more, he provides a compelling, persuasive argument for the need to ‘revisit’ polygamy as a means of providing responsible care for children in the U.S. who experience family disruption. In this regard, there are clearly lessons that we can learn from Africa!"—Mary Johnson Osirim, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, Bryn Mawr College

"The book stands out for its multi-faceted perspective on marital pluralism and overwhelming cross-cultural empirical evidence anchored on views and voices of individuals who have had experience with different forms of family arrangements. The authors' intellectual elegance and brutal candor will, no doubt, inspire many readers to interrogate their moral nets as they choose from a broad range of marital forms to meet their needs and those of their children."—Collette A. Suda, PhD, EBSm, Professor of Sociology, University of Nairobi, Kenya and Secretary for Gender and Social Development, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, Republic of Kenya
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