Marriage and Cohabitation

An example essay question on Marriage and cohabitation

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Marriage + Cohabitation
There has been a change in patterns of marriage and cohabitation over the past forty years.
Marriages have now declined due to many reasons. For example, changes in position of women.
Wilkinson says that women have the choice to educate themselves and the focus on marriage.
Another reason is that there has been a decline in stigma which is attached, for example, it is
now seen as acceptable if you are not married as there has been a decline in secularisation.
As people now have lost the influence of religion, marriage is not important as many
people have their own choice of getting married. For example, there has been an increase in
singletons and lone parents which means there is now family diversity.
Women are now choosing to marry later, which means that there may not be a male
partner once they are over 30. This means that marriage has declined. However,
functionalists believe that cohabitation is wrong but there is still an increase of re-marriages
which suggest that marriage is important and part of social institution.
Marriage has also declined due to the divorce reform act. People are now able to have
divorces as it has become cheaper. It is available for everyone. New Right believe that
divorce and cohabitation is wrong as it is not the traditional view of families as well as the
family does not have a role model. Feminists agree to the decline of marriage as it breaks
them away from oppression.
Cohabitation has increased over the years. Cohabitation was frowned upon in the past, but
not it is seen as acceptable due to secularisation. Churches are now accepting cohabitation if
it is predulge to marriage. Coast says that cohabitation has risen to 35% and has doubled
over the years. Many families will cohabit and will get married; however families with
children are more likely to marry as it will work out. Cohabitation is acceptable as there is a
decline in stigma. This means there is now a change in attitudes towards cohabitation and
younger couples are accepting it.
Generational diversity means that the older generation are likely to disagree to
cohabitation as it goes against the norms and valves. Functionalists, for example, Fletcher
argues that the expectation of love and marriage is high and therefore can lead to divorce.
Many people cohabit as it can be seen as a trial to marriage. Giddens says that
relationships have now become free so that it makes marriages less stable. Furthermore, the
increase of tone parent families can allow members of the family to cohabit to find a new
partner. Chester says that it is a temporary state until they find a partner.
Cohabitation has increased due to changes in position. Women want to educate
themselves, find and then get married. Marriage may have decreased due to financial
reasons which suggest that women may want to cohabit until they can earn and pay for
As marriage has declined and cohabitation has increased, society has now accepted the
change and the laws have changed. Cohabitation is accepted as the law had changed as it
allows people to cohabit.
In conclusion, marriage is still seen as important however, it has declined since the 1900s as
there has been a decline in Stigma, changes in women's position, increase in divorce which
has led marriages to decline if it doesn't work out as well as changes in the law. E.g. ­ divorce
reform act. Cohabitation has increased even though it goes against the traditional valves that
the New Right believe, but it has been accepted due to Secularisation.
Marriage is now seen as less important since the past however functionalists argue that
re-marriages occur and that marriage is still part of the social institutions.

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