Divorce Rates And Reasons

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Changing Family Patterns
Exam question:
Examine changing family patterns (divorce)
This handout will be used alongside the marriage and cohabitation, childbearing
and changing family type's handouts.
"If trends continue
approximately 40°/o of
marriages presently being
formed will end in divorce"
We will now look at the reasons for divorce and what the sociologists say.
1/: Changes in the Law
Divorce was difficult to obtain in the 19th century
There have been three kinds of change in the law
· Equalising the grounds: (the legal reasons) for divorce (1923)
This was followed by a sharp rise in divorce rates.
· Widening the grounds for divorce (1971)
`The irretrievable breakdown' this made divorce easy to obtain (as a
result divorce rates doubled)
· Making divorce cheaper (1949)
Legal aid for divorce cases has increased the rates
2/: Declining Stigma and Changing Attitudes
Stigma refers to a negative label:
In the past divorce and divorcees have been stigmatised
Churches tended to condemn divorce and refused to marry divorcees
· Goody
Since the 1960's there has been a rapid decline in the stigma of

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Declining stigma = changing attitude
­ Divorce is becoming `normalised'
· Instead of shameful it is now seen as misfortunate
3/: Secularisation
The decline of the influence of religion in society
The church opposing divorce now holds no weight
· 2001 census data shows that:
­ 43% of young people with no religion cohabiting
­ 34% Christians (C of E and other religions softening stance)
­ 11% Hindus and 10% Sikhs
4/: Rising Expectations of Marriage
Fletcher (functionalist): People place a high expectation on marriage…read more

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What do the perspectives say about divorce?
High divorce rates do not prove that
marriage is under threat. If this was the
case there would be no remarriages.
The expectations of marriage have
simply got higher.
They see high divorce rates as
desirable because it shows that
women are breaking free from the
oppression of patriarchy.
Every individual's experience is different.…read more


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