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The man and the woman usually were members of the same community, and the courting usually was done in the woman's home in the presence (and under the watchful eye) of her family, most often Mom and brothers.However, between the late 1800s and the first few decades of the 1900s the new system of "dating" added new stages to courtship.Bailey observes that by the 1930s and '40s, with the advent of the "date" (which we will look at more fully in the next installment) courtship increasingly took place in public spaces such as movie theaters and dance halls, removed by distance and by anonymity from the sheltering and controlling contexts of the home and local community.Keeping company in the family parlor was replaced by dining and dancing, movies, and "parking." A second cultural force that influenced the older courtship system was the rise of "public advice" literature as well as the rise of an "expert" class of advisers — psychologists, sociologists, statisticians, etc.It's as if those who wrote and commented on male-female relationship had stopped reading the Song of Solomon and Jane Austen in favor of Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.The new courtship system gave importance to This new language of courtship had great symbolic importance and continues to shape the way we think, speak and act concerning relationships to this day.Fourthly, we find a change in the models and metaphors used to describe the home and family.Prior to the 20th century, when we talked about courtship we used language and metaphors of home and family: system of courtship that played itself out in the entertainment culture and public square largely was understood and described by the advice and "expert" class with metaphors taken from modern industrial capitalism.
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It's one of those words with which most people are familiar, but have vastly differing opinions of what it means. It summons visions of men women with small tokens of affection and asking their hand in marriage on bended knee.
For social scientists, studies of courtship usually look at the process of "mate selection." (Social scientists, among whom I number myself from time to time, will never be accused of being romantics.) For the purpose of this article the , prior to the early 20th century, courtship involved one man and one woman spending intentional time together to get to know each other with the expressed purpose of evaluating the other as a potential husband or wife.