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Interviews with the couples, family members, and current and former Amish elders offer an inside look at an old world ceremony.
Nat Geo has shared a short clip of the show (I’ve posted it below), about Amish dating during “Rumspringa“. One is the Amish “elder’s” appearance for an on-camera interview (“elder” is the term National Geographic uses; I’m assuming they mean bishop or member of the ministry). In the clip, Keim speaks frankly about the consequences of premarital sex from a church standpoint, as his wife looks on.
In the late 1940s, Margaret Mead, in describing this pre-war dating system, argued that dating was not about sex or marriage.
Instead, it was a "competitive game," a way for girls and boys to demonstrate their popularity.
Indeed many Amish find the practice of bed courtship morally objectionable.
Beth Bailey and Ken Myers explain in the Mars Hill Audio Report, , demonstrated through the number and variety of dates a young adult could command, sometimes even on the same night.
In 1937, sociologist Willard Waller published a study in the .
His study of Penn State undergraduates detailed a "dating and rating" system based on very clear standards of popularity.
With the rise of the entertainment culture, with its movie houses and dance halls and their universal appeal across class lines, dating quickly moved up the socio-economic ladder to include middle- and upper-class men and women, as well as the new urbanites.
When one tries to understand how dating has changed over time, and most importantly, how we arrived at the system of courtship and dating we have today, one must realize the monumental cultural shift that occurred during the 1940s, primarily due to World War II.