Communication ETDs

Publication Date

7-1-2009

Abstract

Online marriage programs or mail-order-bride programs have gained tremendous popularity and international reach in the recent years. Online marriage programs are venues in which women can advertise themselves as available for marriage and where men can find potential wives. These programs have both critics and proponents. Critics say it is a form of exploitation and control while proponents argue that it leads to happiness and romance. Although critics' and proponents' views have been well presented in many of the mail-order-bride literature, there is little information or account of the experiences of the participants. This study gives attention to the discursive interview accounts of prospective Filipino online brides, wives and their husbands. The goal is to build understanding of the multiple and multi-faceted factors that contribute to the practice by focusing on the voices of potential online brides as well as online wives and husbands. Drawing on feminist postcolonial lens the study is guided by the following questions: What are the similarities and differences between the husbands' and wives' discourses? What are the similarities and differences between the prospective brides' and wives' discourses? How do the interview discourses reveal gender, national identity and class issues? What do the interview discourses reveal with regard to contextual, structural factors such as history, religion and education? Face-to-face and phone interviews were conducted with 24 participants: eight prospective Filipino brides living in the Philippines (ages 23-48), eight Filipino wives (ages 24-36) living in the Philippines, U.S., England and Australia, and their Western husbands (ages 46-71) living in the Philippines, U.S., England and Australia. The interviews revealed numerous overarching themes. There was expressed marital satisfaction among majority of the online couples interviewed in this study although the small number of couples and the tendency for satisfied couples to agree to be interviewed preclude generalizing to any degree. Prospective online brides and wives cited economic factors as major reasons for joining the online marriage programs. Husbands expressed their desire for traditional wives with traditional values. Both critics' and proponents' views of online marriage programs were corroborated in the participants' narratives. Research indicates that online marriage programs continue to flourish. But no matter how online marriage programs are viewed, as overseas migration, as a natural way for people to meet, or as a form of commodification and exploitation of women, it remains vital that its widening and increasing reach are recognized. This study offers a medley of information that allows one to see through the window of the experiences of prospective Filipino brides, Filipino wives and their husbands.

Language

English

Keywords

online marriage, mail-order-bride programs

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Communication

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Collier, Mary Jane

First Committee Member (Chair)

Foss, Karen

Second Committee Member

Oetzel, John

Third Committee Member

Trinidad Galvan, Ruth

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