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Yet comparatively little research examines how young people meet, mate, and decide to marry in the first place.As scholars, and as society, we seem to have little awareness that good marriages depend not just on the wisdom of the two young people making the choices, but also on institutional arrangements and social norms that are beyond the control of these individuals.Surprisingly, the proportion agreeing that "Being married is a very important goal to me" was somewhat lower in the national sample (83 versus 91 percent), but the national sample respondents were more likely than the qualitative study subjects to say they would like to meet their future husbands in college (63 versus 50 percent).
College women and their parents today more often feel that women should be prepared to support themselves (and their families if necessary).Further, the on-campus interviews, because they go into much more depth, can reveal what lies behind some of the responses to structured questions and, therefore, can provide insights not revealed by the national survey results.It is important, however, not to use them for estimates of the precise prevalence of any of the phenomena studied.Among the scholars who have argued for the importance of socially defined mating processes is Leon Kass, who has chronicled and lamented the demise of courtship. Although few are likely to challenge Kass' contention that there has been a decline in the "wooing" of young women by young men, all while under the supervision of parents and other older adults, more debatable is Kass' argument that courtship has not been replaced by any effective institutionalized mating norms, or at least not by ones guided by older adults. More broadly, are young women today left to find the pathway to marriage completely on their own, or are there any social processes at work that help (or harm) them if they wish to achieve a happy marriage?This study seeks to examine the dating and courtship attitudes and values of contemporary college women, focusing on unmarried, heterosexual women enrolled as undergraduates in four-year colleges and universities in the United States.