Changing family patterns

Notes on patterns and explanations for changing family patterns- sociology AS

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  • Created on: 17-05-12 12:48
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Patterns Explanations
Divorce Since the 1960s there's been a great increase in numbers of 1) Changes in the law- equal grounds for divorce, widening grounds for divorce, making divorce cheape
divorces in UK. In 1993 the number peaked at 180,000. It 2) Declining stigma and changing attitudes- removal of negative label attached to divorce. The decline
decreased to 157,000 in 2001- 6 times higher than it was in stigma means couples more willing to resort to divorce to fix their marital problems.
the 1960s. 7 out of 10 petitions for divorce today come from 3) Secularisation- the decline in church influence. The opposition of divorce by churches carries less
women compared to 37% in 1946. weight in society- 43% of young people with no religion cohabit compared to 34% of Christians and 11%
4) Rising expectations of marriage- Functionalist Ronald Fletcher- higher expectations means couples
Changes in women's positions; less likely to willing to tolerate and unhappy marriage. Linked to ideology of romantic love- in the past
- women more likely to be in paid work people went into a marriage with low expectations and were less likely to be dissatisfied by lack of
- pay gap between men and women narrowed romance and intimacy.- too rosy view- FEMINISTS say main cause of marital conflict and divorce is
- girls greater success in education women's oppression- Functionalist fail to explain why most divorce petitions come from women/
- availability of welfare benefit- women not financially 5) Changes in the position of women- women are now less economically dependent on men so they're
dependent on men. freer to end an unhappy marriage. Feminists argue that the fact that women are wage earners as well a
These changes mean that women can support themselves in homemakers has created new conflict between men and women increasing divorce.
the event of divorce.
Marriage - Fewer people marrying- 170,800 in 2005 ½ than in 70s 1) Changing attitudes to marriage- less pressure to marry and freedom for individuals to choose the
- 4 out of 10 marriage are re-marriages- serial monogamy relationship they want. The norm for every couple to marry has weakened
- People marrying later- rose by 7 years from 70s- men- 32 2) May be linked to secularisation- decline in their influence so people freer to chose no to marry
women-30 3) Decline in stigma attached to marriage alternatives such as cohabitation, having children outside of
- Couples less likely to marry in church- 60% in 1981- 35% in marriage.
2005 4) Changes in the position of women- better educational and career prospects so women are now less
economically dependant on men.
5) Fear of divorce- couple may be put off marriage due to high rates of divorce- may think by getting
married there is an increased likelihood of divorce.

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Cohabitation 2 million cohabiting couples in the UK- ¼ of all married Relationship between marriage and cohabitation ­ for some couple cohabitation is a step before
couples are cohabiting. marriage but for some it is a permanent alternative.
Reflects decline in stigma attached to sex outside marriage Robert Chester- part of the process of getting married. In some cases, cohabitation is a temporary phas
Young people more likely to accept cohabitation- 88% of before marriage because on or both partners are waiting for divorce.…read more

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Lone-parent 24% of all families are lone parent families Number of lone parent families has increased due to the increase in divorce and separation- also linked
families 90% of all lone parent families headed by lone mothers in decline in stigma attached to births outside of marriage. In the past, the most common cause of lone
A child living with a lone parent is more than twice as likely to parent families was death of a partner but this is not as significant today.…read more

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