Sociology - Marriage & divorce

  • Theorists of divorce
  • Reasons for the decrease in marriage/reasons for the increase in divorce
  • Explanations for the rise in divorce
  • Reasons for changing patterns of marriage
  • key trends in marriage in recent years
  • Key trends in cohabitation
  • Reasons for the increase in cohabitation
  • One person households
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Perspectives on divorce
The new right perspective:
· see a high divorce rate as undesirable as it undermines the traditional nuclear family.
In their view, divorce creates an underclass of welfare dependant lone parents which
leaves the boys without an adult role model they need
Functionalists perspective:
· have a positive and optimistic view
· argues that a high divorce rate doesn't necessarily prove that marriage as a social
institution is under threat. They say it is simply the result of peoples higher
expectations of marriage today. The high rate of re-marriage shows people continuing
commitment to the idea of marriage.
Postmodernists perspective:
· See a high divorce rate as giving individuals the freedom to chose to end a
relationship when it no longer meets their needs. They see it as a cause of greater
family diversity
Internationalists perspective:
· Aim to understand what divorce means to the individual. David Morgan (1996) argues
that we cannot generalise about the meaning of divorce because every individuals
interpretation it is different. Mitchell & Goody provide an example of this, one of their
interviewees describe the day her father left as the best day of her life. Whereas
another said she has never recovered from here father deserting the family.…read more

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Reasons for the increase in
· Less social stigma
· Rising expectations of marriage
· Easier to obtain
· Positions of women
· Socially acceptable
· Rising expectations of marriage - the false
idea of how marriage should work
· Women independence - women are now able
to support themselves
· Feminist movements - liberation of women
· Easier to get divorce due to the changes of the
law…read more

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Reasons for the decrease in
· Expensive
· Cohabitation - living together
· Taking each other for granted
more when married
· Women don't depend on men as
much - women's liberation
· Socially acceptable…read more

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Major changes in Family and Household
patterns over the past 30/40 years
· Divorce has risen that much and has
seen the negative effect - which is why
they want to revert back to traditional
· Same relationship and one person
households is now more acceptable and
Has increased
· family is changing
· 40% of marriage end up in divorce…read more

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Explanation of the increase in divorce
(Declining stigmas and changing attitudes )
· Stigmas = negative label, social disapproval or
shame attached to a person
· Mitchell & Goody (1997) note an important
change since the 1960's have shown a rapid
decline in stigma attached to divorce. It is
seen as a misfortune nowadays rather than
shameful…read more

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