Perceptions of cousin marriage among young Bedouin adults in Israel

Aviad E. Raz, Marcela Atar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Attitudes of young Bedouin adults (26 men and 23 women) in Israel towards cousin marriage, a traditional marriage pattern in the Bedouin society, were investigated. A Bedouin clan (population 3,400) with a high rate of cousin marriage and consanguinity was targeted for this study. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents expressed unconditional positive attitudes towards cousin marriage, while 22% said that this form of mate selection is inevitable because of the parents. These views represented the persistence of this tradition in Bedouin culture. However, there was also support for change and modernization, reflected in a negative view of parental intervention (8%, all men) as well as in a new predilection for romantic love (22%). A majority (65%) of the respondents held the view that cousin marriage is associated with genetic diseases. However, the biomedical discourse of genetic risk did not change the traditional Bedouin method of mate selection and was rather incorporated into the traditional discourse through a system referred to as "healthy consanguinity" (namely the option of premarital carrier matching). The paper concludes by considering the persistence of consanguinity from educational, political and cultural perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-46
Number of pages20
JournalMarriage and Family Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 6 Oct 2005


  • Attitudes
  • Bedouin society
  • Consanguinity and cousin marriage
  • Family diversity
  • Islam
  • Mate selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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