Changing family patterns

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  • Created by: Arti
  • Created on: 05-05-13 15:52

Several changes in family patterns

-decrease in nuclear families

-divorce rate has increased

-less first marriages, more remarriages and people marrying later

-more cohabiting couples

-same sex relationships legally recognised through civil partnership

-women having less children and later

-more births outside marriage

-more people living alone

-more step families

-more couples without children

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1960'S: increase in divorce

1961-9: doubled

1972: doubled

1993: peaking at 180,000

2001: 157,000

40% of all marriages will end

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Those greater risk of divorce are


-have children before marriage

-cohabit before marriage

-one of both partners never married before

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P S L R D (pisslord)

Changing position of women


Changes in law

Rising expectations of marriage

decline in stigma/changing attitudes

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L- changes in law

It use to be difficult for a women to have a divorce but changes in law have made it easier

1) equal grounds for divorce: causes a rise is divorce petitions

2) widened grounds for divorce: made is easier to obtain a divorce

3) made divorce cheaper: legal aid caused a rise in divorce


other solutions to divorce: not popular as divorce is made easier

desertion: one parent leaves but stay married

legal seperation: court seperates finance and stay married

empty shell-live together and married in name only

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D- decline in stigma/changing attitudes

stigma is a negative label or social disapproval of a person action or relationship

divorce used to be stigmatised, churches use to refuse to carry out marriage services involving divorcees

Mitchell and goody: say important changes sinces 1960s have caused a decrease in stigma of divorce

Divorce has become socially acceptable and couples feel they can divorce if they have marital problems.

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S- secularisation

-reduced influence of religion in society

-religious institutions are losing influence, society is more secular

-opposition of church carrying out marriages involving divorcees carries less weight and people are no longer influenced by religious teachings when making decisions

-43% of young people with no religion now cohabit

-churches accept divorce as they fear losing credibility

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R- Rising expectations of marriage

Fletcher (functionalist) says high expectations cause in increase in divorce

-couples dont tolerate an unhappy marriage- linked to the ideiology of 'romantic love' believe marriage should be based solely on love and if love dies there is no reason to stay together

-In the past individuals had little choice of who they married, when family was a unit of production marriage was done for economic reasons. Individuals didnt have high expectations of marriage and werent unhappy by the absence of romance.

-marriage is now being seen as a relationsip where individuals have it for personal fulfilment instead of a contract and encourages couples to divorce if they arent satisfied

X-fem say the oppression of women is the main reason for divorce. Func ignore this and fail to explain why women seek divorce

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P- changing position of women

Womens now want to get divorced as their economic position has improved and they are now financially dependent and therefore feel they can end a marriage.

-women are in paid work

-even though women earn less, equal pay and sex discrimination laws have narrowed the gap

-girls do better in ed' which helps them get a better paid job

-welfare benefits are available to women so arent financially dependent

-women can support themselves in a divorce

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(contin.) Allan and Crow

says family is no longer a unit of production, spouses arent economically interdependent, they have their own income from paid work and dont have to rely on eachother so don't have to tolerate conflict

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(contin) Feminists

say women are wage earners and home makers which has created conflicted between husbands and wives. Feminists say even though there has been changes they argue marriage still is patriarchal and men benefit from wives triple shift

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(contin) Hoschschild

women being at work they feel valued where as at home men not doing housework is fustrating and makes marriage less stable. The fact that both partners go to work means less time for emotion work which is need to solve marital problems

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(contin) Rushton

working mothers more likely to divorce than women in a relationship with traditional division of labour but where a husband of a working wife is involved with housework they are less likely to get divorced

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(contin) Bernard

divorce is because women are aware of patriarchal oppression so reject it

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New right:says it undermines the nuclear family. Divorce creates female lone parent families who are welfare dependent and leaves boys without a male role model

Feminist: shows women are breaking free from oppressive nuclear family

Post modernists: gives individuals freedom to end a relationship when it no longer meets their needs and causes more fam diversity

Functionalists: it doesn't prove marriage under threat. . People get remarried which shows peoples commitment to the idea of marriage.

Interactionists: want to understand what divorce means to an individual- MORGAN: says we cant generalise about the meaning of divorce, every individuals view is different = MITCHELL AND GOODY: provide an e.g. where one interviewee describes her father leaving as the best day of her life whereas another said she never recovered from her dad leaving

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changes to patterns of marriage:

-few people marrying

-more re-marriages  (2005 4 out of 10)

-remarriages led to serial monogamy

-people marrying later

-couples less likely to get married in a church

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REASONS for the changing patterns in marriage

-less pressure of marry, more freedom and individuals can choose the type of relationship they want

-belief that quality of relationship is important rather than legal status

-Secularisation: churches  favour mariage but there is less of an influence, people can choose not to marry

-decrease in stigma/changing attitudes: less stigma attached to alternatives to marriage such as cohabitation, staying single, children outside marriage, pregnancy doesnt lead to a shotgun wedding

-Changing position of women: better ed and career prospects, less financially dependent so gives more freedom..they dont have to marry

-influence of feminism: marriage is oppressive which may put off women from getting married

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-rise of divorce may put people off getting married as they may feel that their marriage will end in a divorce

-age at which couples are getting married is later as young people are spending longer in ed and want to make a career

-couples dont marry in church as:

1) secularisation: people dont see the importance of a religious ceremony

2) churches refuse to do marriage services for divorcees

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-unmarried couple in a sexual relationship living together

-cohabitation is increasing (2 million couples)

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REASONS for increase in cohabitation

-decrease in stigma attached to sex outside marriage (2006 62% not wrong)

-young people likely to accept it

-it was found young people without a religion are likely to cohabit

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cohab is on the increase and marriage is decreasing

-relationship between the two isnt clear cut

-CHESTER: says cohabitation is part of the process of getting married.

-COAST: says 75% of couples are expecting to marry eachother.

Many see cohab as a trial marriage. Most cohab couples decide to marry if they have children

In most cases cohab is a temporary phase before marriage

-some couples see cohab as an alternative to marriage. Cohab for the young is an attempt to create a equal relationship instead of marriage

-Cohab doesnt mean the same to everyone

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5-7% have same sex relationships

-same sex relationships are being socially excepted

-social policies treating couples equally, civil partnership act gives same sex couples legal rights to pensions and property

-WEEKS: says increasing in social acceptance led to same sex cohab, gays create families based on friendship and describe them as chosen families. They offer the same security as a heterosexual families

-WESTON: describes same sex cohab as a 'quasi marriage' ,gay couples are deciding to cohabit as stable partners.

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-socios have seen an effect of legal frameworks such as civil partnership act

ALLAN + CROW: say that lack of such a framework cause same sex partners to negotiate their commitment and responsibilities more than married couples. This may have made same sex relationships more flexible and less stable.

CHEAL: says gay and lesbian couples welcome the civil partnership which is legally recognised but others fear it will limit flexibility. They want to retain a status of difference

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less people are living in couples

there has been an increase in the no. of one person households (2006 3 in 10 households-one person)

most of the one person households were those of a pensionable age

men under 65 were the group most likely to be living alone

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REASONS for changes

-increase in seperation and divorce

-after divorce children are likely to live with their mother and father is likely to leave the family home

-less people marrying and people are marrying later so people stay single

-increase of adults who are single since 1971

-STEIN: many people choose creative singlehood which is a choice to live alone

-many people may live alone as there are few partners available in their age group

-there are many older widows

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it's assumed those living alone DO NOT have a partner

DUNCAN+PHILLIPS: found 1 in 10 adults are in LATS. Its a sig relationship but they aren't cohabiting or getting married, less formalised relationship. Found choice and constraint played a part in whether couples live together. Some said they can't afford to live together and a people chose to live apart as they wanted to keep their own home.

LATS is no longer seen as abnormal and led to rejection of traditional relationships

-many people believe you don't need to live together to have a strong relationship and saw LATS as their ideal relationship

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childbearing (how many children you give birth to)

-4 in 10 children born outside of marriage but they are jointly registered.

-women are having children later (average of a women when having their first child has risen)

-many women remaining childless

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REASONS for changes

-increase of births outside marriage:  declining stigma and increase of cohabitation, only 1/3 of 18-24 years olds thought marriage should come before parenthood. Rise is due to the increase in births to cohab couples

-women having children later: smaller family sizes is due to the fact that women are remaining childless which reflects the fact that women now have more options then motherhood

-women want to establish a career first so have children later

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-1 in 4 children are in lone parent families

-until 1990's divorced women were biggest no. of lone mothers

-single women were the biggest group of lone mothers

-child living with lone parent is likely to be in poverty

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REASONS for patterns

-lone parents increased due to increase in divorce and seperation and increase in no. of people not marrying but having children. Also a decline in stigma attached to births outside marriage

-in the past the death of one parent was common and caused more lone parent families

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Lone parent families tend to be FEMALE HEADED for many reasons:

-belief that women are naturally suited to the expressive/nurturing role. The fact that divorce courts give custody of children to mothers and men are less willing to give up on work to care for children

-mothers are single by choice. They may not want to cohabit or marry and may want to limit fathers involvement with the child

-RENVOIZE: professional women are able to support their child without fathers involvement

-CASHMORE: w/c mothers chose to live on welfare benefits without partner as they experienced abuse

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Lone parents, welfare state and poverty:

MURRAY (new right thinker): says increase of lone parent families is due to welfare benenfits for unmarried mothers and children. Murray says it has created a PERVERSE INCENTIVE, rewards irresponsible behaviour e.g. having children without being able to provide for them or fathers may feel that the state are providing for their children so feel like they can abandon them.

The welfare state has created a DEPENDENCY CULTURE where people assume the state will support them and their children. Murray says to stop this they need to be cut to reduce dependency culture which encourage births outside marriage.

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say welfare benefits are far from generous, lone parent families are more likely to be in poverty reasons being:

-lack of afforable childrencase prevents lone parents from working (60% are unemployed)

-inadequate welfare benefits

-More lone parents are women who earn less than men

-failure of fathers to pay maintenance, especially if they have a second family to support

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Called reconstituted families (10% of all families)

-86% of step families have one child from mothers previous relationship

-11% from mans

-3% from both

FERRI AND SMITH: step families are similar to first families and involvement of step parents in childcare and childrearing in positive. Step families however are at risk of poverty

ALLAN+CROW: said they may have problems with divided loyalty and issues with non resident parents can cause tensions

MCCARTHY: diversity among step families

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REASONS for patterns

-step families formed when lone parents have a new partner (causes increase in divorce and seperation)

-more children in step families come from womens previous relationship as children are likely to stay with the mother

-step parents are at risk of poverty as they have more children and step father may have to support children from previous relationships

-Tensions maybe due to lack of clear social norms about how individuals should behave in such families

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-immigration has created ethnic diversity

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black families

-black carribean and african people have more lone parents

-2002 (over half of families were lone parent black families)

-high rate of female headed black lone parent families are seen as evidence of disorganisation which can be traced back to slavery. Slavery- when couples were sold seperately, children stayed with the mother. Created a pattern of family life. Male unemployment and poverty means black men cant provide for family so causes marital problems

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asian families

-Bangladeshis, pakis and indian households are larger than any other ethnic group highest is 4.5 person per household and 2.3 for black carribean and white british households

-such households normally have 3 generations but most are nuclear families instead of extended.

-large household sizes is due to young age british asians being the big no. in the childbearing age group

-Large asian households show the value placed on the extended family. But considerations such as needing help when migrating to britain are also important

BALLARD: found extended families provide help for asian migrants

-Early part of migration: houses were shared by extended families but now most asian households are nuclear families and relatives live nearby for visits

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-Parsons: the extended family is the dominant family type in pre industiral society but is replaced by the nuclear family.

CHARLES: found classic 3 generation family living together under one roof is 'all but extinct' except among bangladeshi communities. Decades later found high contact remained between mothers and daughters. There has been a decrease in support between brothers and sisters- this affects who counts as family. Those who don't keep in touch may not be classed as family and those friends maybe come family.


WILLMOTT: it continues as a DISPERSED EXTENDEDED FAMILY, where they are all geographically seperated but maintain contact by visits and phonecalls

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CHAMBERLAIN: despite carribean families being geographically dispersed, they still provide support. Called them 'multiple nuclear families' with close contact. Says extended family still exists as it performs important functions such as childrearing

BELLS: w/c + m/c families had emotional bonds with kin and relied on them for support. M/C- financial help from father to son and W/C domestic help from mother to daughter

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