Marital Relationships In Dagestan: Content Analysis Of Online Media


Social networks differ from traditional media in their interactivity and greater dependence on readers, since the success of a page depends on the involvement of the audience, especially on the number of comments. Page administrators are interested in posting news evoking reaction and disputes. Events covered by news pages then go to other communities, where they are further discussed. The response of Internet users to various topics can determine the general mood of society. In Dagestan social networks, the issue of family-marriage relationships is often raised. Moreover, this topic is stimulated by the publication of news reports on the ratio of marriages and divorces in the republic. Since the majority of active users of social networks are young people, an analysis of their opinions on the issue of family relations can help in understanding the future of the family in the region. The results of analyzing comments under posts on marriages and divorces, denote that, in addition to personal, the main reasons for both divorces and a decrease in the number of marriages are financial instability as well as a change in society and its position at the junction of archaization and modernization. The number of marriages in Dagestan is decreasing, while the number of divorces remains at approximately the same level, although the media focus on divorce in their publications forming a certain viewpoint of the world among readers.

Keywords: Marriage, divorce, content analysis, online media, Dagestan


The technology development has contributed to the spread of online media, recently competing with traditional media. Internet media are Internet resources that create and distribute news content and perform journalistic functions. On the Internet, and especially on social networks, interactivity affects the perception of information, allowing readers to leave comments that become part of the published news and can change its meaning (Kalugina, 2017).

One of the main goals of entering the Internet and social networks is to search and read news. Initially, online versions of traditional media were used to read the news and then they were replaced by news aggregators, for example, Yandex.News (Raspopina, 2013). Recently, pages on such social networks as Instagram, Telegram, Vkontakte have become more popular. Many of them also work on the principle of aggregators, which is as follows: they collect news articles from various sources and publish all relevant information.

Problem Statement

When viewing posts on social networks or visiting an online media site, a user first of all sees a headline and its accompanying image, which give a concise understanding of the news content. Administrators of news pages themselves are engaged in the selection of material and its design. Any forms of media have the ability to shape the perception of reality, focusing readers on specific topics and issues.

News published on a page on a social network creates a topic for discussion by subscribers of this page. Afterwards, the same topic can transmit to other social networks, to non-news pages, and become the center of attention of Internet users for some time. News reports about events relating to each person cause the greatest reaction in social networks. These reactions can determine the general mood of society and its attitude to certain social issues.

Content analysis of social networks gives the opportunity to quickly determine the mood of society by its responses to various posts and news messages. Subsequently, the data obtained due to content analysis can be used for more detailed studies that reveal in detail the changes that are taking place in society.

Research Questions

In the Dagestan segment of the Internet, the question of family is often raised. The Family Institute in Dagestan as well as in other regions of the Caucasus is influenced by two different trends being archaization and modernization. Archaization is manifested in the revival of archaic forms and practices of family-marriage relations (bridal kidnapping, early marriage of girls, marriage by the will of the parents, polygamy). Modernization brings Dagestan closer to other regions of Russia with rarer marriage and frequent divorces (Vereshchagina et al., 2020).

Purpose of the Study

The family culture of youth is an indicator of the well-being of a young family, its sustainability and stability (Kameneva, 2018). Most of the active users of social networks are young people, so the analysis of their opinions on the issue of marriage and divorce seems important for understanding the future of the family and marriage relations in the region.

A special increase in the number of posts on marriage and divorce in 2019 was caused by two publications in the news communities. In January 2019, news that every third couple was divorced in Makhachkala according to data for 2018 was published. Exactly the same news was published in several communities again in September 2019. These two publications entailed a discussion of the causes of divorce among residents of Dagestan as well as a decreasing number of marriages. In July 2019, news appeared that Dagestan was among the leading regions with the lowest percentage of divorces in Russia.

Research Methods

Content analysis is a research method used for an objective, systematic and quantitative description of textual data (Lewis et al., 2013). Since automated methods of content analysis are far from understanding the text and cannot analyze moods, find topics, and consider the text as a “bag of words” (Brantner & Pfeffer, 2018), a qualitative content analysis was chosen as part of the study. The following data were collected for analysis: 22 posts (5,741 comments) related to marriage and divorce on the social networks Instagram and Vkontakte in 2019.


The success of a page on social networks, including news pages, is determined by the level of audience involvement: comments, likes, reposts. Many portals of traditional media also have the opportunity to leave comments, which attracts more users to them. On social networks, page administrators can intentionally publish news provoking constant reaction and a large number of comments, and can also periodically repeat the same publications.

In VKontakte, most of the discussions about family-marriage relationships are on the “Overheard Dagestan” page, which users send their life stories, ask for advice, or simply offer a topic for discussion to. This topic has always been one of the most frequent on this page. However, after the publication of statistics on marriage and divorce, subscribers began to discuss precisely the reasons for divorce and small number of marriages. The results of the content analysis are shown in Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1: Reasons for small number of marriages
Reasons for small number of marriages
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Figure 2: Reasons for divorce
Reasons for divorce
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In every discussion of marital relations, most of the comments are mutual accusations of men and women. Therefore, among the causes of divorce, the two most frequent are men and women; the male part of the commentators explains the small number of marriages by the impossibility of finding a worthy girl to marry, the female part of the commentators answers the same but on the part of men. It is also worth noting that such discussions on social networks quickly turn into a conversation between a group of users and move away from the topic, so out of 5,741 comments, only 999 directly relate to discussions of family and marriage relationships.

The two most common reasons called by users of social networks are the high cost of weddings and the reluctance to marry at an early age. Many young people refuse to marry because they cannot afford a fancy wedding adopted in society. One way out of this situation is the returning archaic practice of kidnapping the bride, which removes many expenses from the future family. Reluctance to marry at an early age is also related to financial situation. Having no stable job and high income, most young people decide to marry later. It is also proved by society modernization, which is also indicated by the independence of women, who are able to provide themselves, but lose this opportunity after marriage. All comments of the latter idea belong to girls. Moreover, the directly unstable financial situation and unwillingness to financially provide the family are rarely named as a reason.

Many commentators discuss a religious marriage instead of an official one, although they usually duplicate each other. However, marriage only according to Islamic laws without registration in the registry office is becoming more widespread (Alimova & Ibragimov, 2016). Such marriages are then terminated according to Sharia and fall out of general statistics since religious organizations do not publish such information.

The most frequently named causes of divorce with no regards to the mutual accusations of men and women are as follows: a break with tradition, parental intervention, a frivolous attitude to the family and financial situation. The break with traditions is often understood by many users as the reluctance of girls to endure and save their family at all costs as well as the change in traditional gender roles, greater independence of women, their ability to provide themselves and children, and to live an independent life. In general, modern men and women have higher expectations from marriage and if the relationship does not meet them, they do not hesitate to divorce (Haralambos & Holborn, 2008). Often, users say that women who marry continue to work and provide a family, while men remain unemployed and become dependent on their wives and that is why women decide to file for divorce.

The parental intervention into the life of a young family occurs both on the part of the husband’s parents and on the part of the wife’s parents. In the first case, it is usually a matter of living together with the husband’s parents, which often leads to quarrels and, as a result, to divorce. This again indicates the financial situation of young people who are not able to acquire their own housing. Women are not ready to put up with constant reproaches from the husband’s parents, while men are unhappy that their wives discuss family problems with their parents, and that the wife’s parents are ready to take her back to their home in case of divorce.

Both in the context of a small number of marriages, and in the context of divorces, the most often called causes are associated with an unstable financial situation. Moreover, as it can be seen from table 01, the economic situation in Dagestan is not deteriorating and, on the contrary, is improving every year. Perhaps this emphasis on financial issues among young people is associated with the increased needs and expectations from life.

Table 1 - Gross regional product per capita from 2012 to 2018
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In news reports published on social networks, the main focus is on the fact that every third marriage ends in a divorce. Thus, the users who leave comments conclude that the number of divorces has increased. However, the statistics of Rosstat show a different picture, specifically, that the number of divorces remains at about the same level but the number of marriages is annually falling. Table 2 shows the marriage and divorce rates for the period from 2000 to 2019, as well as the coefficient of marriage sustainability. The coefficients are calculated by the following formulas:

  • marriage rate Кb=BS*1000, where B is the number of marriages, S is the population;
  • the coefficient of divorce Кр=РS*1000, where P is the number of divorces, S is the population;
  • the coefficient of marriage sustainability К=РБ*1000.

Table 2 - Marriage, divorce, and marriage sustainability ratios in Dagestan from 2000 to 2019
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News reports published by traditional media then go to aggregators and blogs of online media attracting the attention of users to past events or topics. The media form the information agenda determine what will receive the status of the event, news, and what will go unnoticed in the media space (Volodenkov, 2015). Since the success of a page on social networks depends on the response of the audience, page and public administrators accompany publications with questions, make their subscribers leave comments and initiate discussions, and often conduct polls. Traditional media also begin to turn to comments as a source of public opinion (Belenko & Zyryanov, 2018).

Family and marriage relations are a topic that is constantly discussed in social networks; most often it is a discussion of personal stories, a desire to share or ask for advice. News reports published in 2019 about a large number of divorces caused another type of discussion and created a certain opinion in which attention is focused on divorces. However, the divorce rate in Dagestan has been steadily declining since 2016 as can be seen in table 01. The main problem is the decline in the number of marriages.

In fact, the reasons for divorce and the reasons for unwillingness to marry coincide. If personal reasons are excluded, financial reasons become central together with the society being at the crossroads of archaization and modernization, which leads to instability of family culture, especially among young people. In Dagestan, as well as in other Caucasian republics, divorce is still condemned and happens much less frequently than in the whole country. When discussing the economic situation, some of the youth complain about the difficulty of finding a job, the low level of salaries, the inability to get their own housing, which, in their opinion, leads to divorce. These same factors cause unwillingness to marry at an early age. People respond to social and economic difficulties and crises by changing their demographic behavior, adjusting the moment of marriage and the birth rate (Premchand & Agadjanian, 2008).

The decline in marriages with a practically unchanged number of divorces explains the media reports that every third couple divorces in Dagestan, which focused precisely on divorces, when the real reason for this situation is the reduction of the number of marriages.


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Gabaraeva, M. R. (2021). Marital Relationships In Dagestan: Content Analysis Of Online Media. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 519-525). European Publisher.