MMBFD #10 Modernity, Postmodernity, Freedom and Choice

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  • Modernity, Postmodernity, Freedom and Choice:
    • Gibson (1994)
      • He adds "a higher divorce rate may be indicative of modern couples generally anticipating a superior standard of personal marital satisfaction than was expected by their grandparents".
      • People increasingly expect to get most of their personal satisfaction for their home life and "television programmes reinforce the feeling that togetherness is the consummate life style".
      • However the emphasis on togetherness is somewhat undermined by " the Thatcherite  manifesto of unfettered self-seeking interest", so that conflict between spouses becomes more likely if self-fulfilment is not delievered by the marriage.
      • Gibson argues that people now live in an "enterprise and free-market culture of individualism in which the licence of choice dominates".
      • They increasingly exercise that freedom by leaving marriages that fail to live up to what they expect.
      • The development of modernity has increased the likelihood of conflict between spouses.
    • Beck and Beck-Gernsheim (1995)
      • Argue that rising divorce rates are the product of a rapidly changing world in which  the traditional rules, rituals and traditions of love, romance and relationships no longer apply.
      • In particular they point out that the modern world id characterised by:
        • Choice
          • Cultural and economic changed mean that we have a greater range of choices available to us in terms of lifestyle and living arrangements
        • Individuali-sation
          • We are under less pressure to conform to traditional collective goals set by our extended family, religion or culture. We now have the freedom to pursue individual goals.
        • Conflict
          • There is now more potential for antagonism between men and women because there is a natural clash of interest between the selfishness encouraged by individuali-sation and the selfishness required by relationships, marriage and family life.
    • In particular, love helps compensate for the stress and particular the impersonal and uncertain nature of the modern world.
    • They argue that these characteristics of the modern world have led to personal relationships between men and women becoming a battleground ( they call it the "chaos of love") as evidence by rising divorce rates
    • However they are positive about the future because they note that people still generally want to find love with another in order to help them cope with a risky, rapidly changing world
    • Love is the one thing that people feel is real and that they can be sure of
    • Divorce and remarriage may simply be signs that people still have faith that they will one day find the true love they need to help them cope with the complexity of modern life


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