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Sociology Revision the Family Mock Emma Rudd BMA
Pattern's of Divorce
For a long time divorce rates have been increasing but within the last 15 years they have slowed
down and are beginning to level off.
The most rapid increase came after the Divorce Reform Act became effective which was in 1971.
73% of divorces are filed by women
Explanation's behind This
Divorce Changes in Legislation
The Divorce Reform Act Made divorce quicker, easier and open to more people. As it meant
that people no longer had to prove that their partner had committed a `marital offence', they
could simply claim `irretrievable breakdown'.
Matrimonial Family Proceedings Act This reduced the length of time couples had to be
married before they could get a divorce.
Not Marrying for Economic Reasons
Couples no longer need to get married for economic reasons as changes in legalisation have
provided individuals, especially women with economic independence.
Acts Relating to Gender Equality Acts such as the Equal Pay Act and the Sexual
Discrimination Act have helped give women a greater economic independence. This could be
the cause of later marriages, or some women never marrying.
Expansion of the Welfare State System Benefit systems such as income support, child
benefits, family tax credit, and housing benefits mean that people do not need to get married /
stay married for economic reasons.
The Isolation of the Family Edmund Leach argued that the family has become overloaded
as its become more isolated. He argues that as a result the relationships within families have
become increasingly dysfunctional.
The Family has lost its Functions Denis argued that the loss of the functions has meant
there is less to hold the family together if love goes. Functions such as caring for the elderly and
the sick, have been taken over by institutions.
Individualism Many sociologists point to changes in the values, such as, there is more
emphasis on careers and personal fulfilment e.g. women / men achieving a career before settling
down (could also be reason for later marriages).
The Increased Importance of Marriage Talcott Parsons and Robert Fletcher argued that
the increased divorce rate is due to the increased importance placed upon marriage, people now
look for the `perfect' marriage / partner and are less likely to stick at ones that aren't `perfect'.
Changing attitudes / Norms There is less social stigma about getting divorced.
Secularisation The decline in religious beliefs. Goode and Gilbson argued that changes in
the importance and impact of religion on daily lives means that religious ideas have weakened.
They argued that marriage is no longer seen as sacred, spiritual union, but is now more of a
personal and practical commitment.
Increased Cohabitation Living together as a couple is no longer seen as `living in sin' and
the amount of cohabiting couples is increasing. Some use this as a `stepping stone' before
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Functionalists and New Right thinker's Explanations on the Patterns of Marriage and
Functionalists Sociologists have tended to see the trends as a sign of lack of satisfaction
provided by traditional patriarchal, marriages with individuals seeking alternative types of
relationships and living arrangements.
New Right New Right thinkers see the trends as a sign of the break down of the family and
have argued for a return in traditional values.…read more