Classical Theories of Mate Choice and the Relational Deficit in the Study of Relationship Formation

  • Andreas Schmitz


The analytical emphasis on the ‘individual’ within research on online dating markets, as outlined so far, is not a phenomenon unique to this specific subject area. It is also constitutive for a great deal of traditional and current research into the sociology of mating. Although there is no single coherent research program on mating processes in the social sciences, the individualistic paradigm also prevails in empirical research on offline partner markets, above all in its quantitative variation. This section will elaborate on the central components of the approach, constitutive for research on empirical mating processes both on and offline. The way these theoretical foundations are used and integrated by modern individualist mate choice researchers will then be illustrated. This dominant approach in the field of partner market research in contemporary empirical sociology can be characterized as a combination of theories of preference, choice, and social exchange, of several different market-related considerations, and drawing on further theoretical inspirations. Collectively, it constitutes a research paradigm which will henceforth be referred to as “mating as agency in structure”, or MAS. Subsequently, MAS will be examined with regard to its potential to include structure into the different models of individual mate choice. It will be then shown that individualistic mate choice research tries to overcome the restrictions inherent to methodological individualism and rational choice. This, in sum, will indicate the need for a relational notion of ‘structure’ in research on mating processes.


Mate Choice Rational Choice Mating Process Mating Preference Potential Partner 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Schmitz
    • 1
  1. 1.SociologyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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