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Polygamy is the practice of marrying several spouses and is defined as “a state of marriage to numerous spouses.” Polygyny is the term used by sociologists to describe a guy who is married to multiple wives at the same time. Polyandry is when a woman is married to more than one husband at the same time.

Polygamy is encouraged, accepted, or outlawed in numerous communities around the world. Polygyny is the most common kind of polygamy acknowledged in societies that allow or tolerate it. According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook (1998), 588 of the 1,231 cultures studied had regular polygyny, 453 had occasional polygyny, 186 were monogamous, and 4 had polyandry — though new study reveals polyandry is more widespread than previously thought. Polygamy is common in societies where it is practiced, and its prevalence is generally linked to social class and economical level.

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