Changing Family Patterns




Changing patterns of divorce:

1960's: Great increase in the number of divorce's in UK

Doubled between 1961-1969 > Continued peaking in 1993 at 180000

40% Marriages will end in divroce

7/10 petitions come from women

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Increase in Divorce

1. Changes in Law :1971-widening grounds of divroce to 'irretreivable breakdown' made divorce easier to obtain

2.Declining stigma and changing attitudes: Churches tended to condemn divorce-stigmatised. Mitchell and Goody: Important changes in stigma attached to divorce- divorce more socially acceptable.

3.Secularisation: Decline of the influence of relegion in society - Society become secular

4.Rising expectations of marriage: Ronald fletcher 'Ideology of romantic love'. Couples seek personal fufillment.

5.Changes in the position of women

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Views of High divorce Rate

New Right: Undermines traditional nuclear family. Divorce creates one parent underclass. No male role model.

Feminists: HDR desirable. Shows women are breaking free from patriarchal nuclear family

Postmodernists:Gives individual greater choice to leave when relationship no longer meets their needs. Greater family diversity

Functionalists: Marriage is not underthreat as people are cohabititing-Continuing commiment to the idea of marriage

Interactionalism: Need to understand individuals meaning of divorce. (David Morgan) Cannot generalise peoples meanings of divorce

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>Fewer people marrying

>More remmariages

>People marrying later

>Couples less like to marry in church

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Reasons for changing patterns of marriage

Changing in attitudes to marriage

Church's less influential

Declining stigma

Changes in postion of women

Fear of Divorce

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Cohabitation  involves an ummarried couple in a sexual relationship living together. Over two million cohabiting couples in Britain. Increased Cohabitation due to: Decline in stigma attachhed to sex outside marriage. By 2000 62% agreed that 'premarital sex is not wrong at all'. Increased career oppurtunites for women, may not need finacial security. Seculirisation, 2001 Census, young people with no relegion were more likely to cohabit than those with a relegion.

Relationship between cohabitation and marriage. For some cohabitation is a permanent alternative for mariage where as others take it as a stepping stone before marriage. Robert Chester argues that for most people cohabitation is part of the process of getting married. Example: Ernestia Coast (2006) found that 75% of cohabiting couples expect to marry each other.

On the other hand, Cohabitation as permanent alternative. Andre Bejin (1985) argues that among some young couples it represents a conscious attempt to create a more personally negotiated and equal relationship than conventional patriarchal marriage. Example: Shelton and John (1993) found women who cohabit do less housework.

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Same Sex Realtionships

Stonewall (2008) 5-7% of the adult population today have same sex relationships. Evidence of increased  social acceptance in recent years.

Male Homosexual acts were decriminalised in 1967 for consentig adults over 21. Age of consent also has been equalised.

Social policy is now beginning to treat all couples more equally. Example: since 2002, cohabiting couples have same right to adopt like married couples. 2004 Civil Partnership Act has given same sex couples similiar legal right to married couples such as pensions, inheritance of property ect. Jeffery weeks (1999) increase social acceptance may explain a trend in recent years towards same sex cohabitation and stable relationships that resemble those found among heterosexuals. Weeks sees gays as creating families based on the idea of 'friendship as kinship'. Describes these as choosen families.

Kath Weston - 'Quasi-marriage' Gay couples now deciding to cohabit as stable partners            Allan and Crow- Absence of framework - Same-sex couples less stable but more flexible         David Cheal (2002) - Same sex couples welcome oppurtunity to have partnerships legally recognised, others fear it may limit flexibility and negotiability of relationships.

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One Person Households

Big rise in number of people living alone, in 2006 almost three in ten households contained only one person.

Half of one person households are pensioners.  Men under 65 were the most likely group to live aloen.

Reasons for changes

>Increase n separation and divorce

>Decline in numbers of marriage

>Peter stein rgues that people are opting for this lifestyle

>Older Widowas

LAT- Living apart together Duncan and phillips in BAS found 1 in 10 adults are 'LAT'. May want to LAT to keep their own home as its beneficial to them.

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Child Bearing

Over 4 in every 10 children are now born outside marriage. In most cases parents are cohabiting.

Women having children later : 1971<>2005 average age of first birth rose by more than three years to 27.3  

Women are having fewer childrenAverage number of children per woman record low of 1.63 in 2001

More women are remaining childless Predicted that a quarter of those born in 1973 will be childless till they reach he age of 45

Reasons for the changes

Decline in stigma & increase in cohabitation > Only 1/3 of 18-24 year olds now think marriage should become before parenthood.

Women are having fewer children and at a later age, this shows that there are more options than motherhood such as women putting career first.

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Lone-Parent Households

Make up 24% of families

Over 90% of these families headed by lone mothers. By 1990's women who were single and never married became the biggest group of lone mothers. A child living with lone parent, twice more likely to be in poverty as child with two parents.

.Increased lone parent families because...

.Increase in divorce and seperation .Increase in the number of never married women having children links to declinging stigma attached to having children outside marriage.

.Courts usually give custody of children to mothers

.Widespread belief of women suiting 'nuturing' role.

Jean Renvoize found that professional women were able to support their child without the fathers involvement. (Mothers are single by choice)

Ellis Cashmore (1985) working class mothers choose to live on welfare benefits because of abuse

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Lone Parent Households

Charles Murray sees the growth of lone parents familiesas resulting from an over generous welfare state.

It has created 'perverse incentitives' which rewards irresponsible behaviour. Thus this creates a dependency culture in which people assume the state will support them.

For Murray the solution is to abolish welfare benefits.

Critics of New Right:

Argues benefits are far from generous because...

Lack of affordable childcares stops parents from working 60% unemployed

Inadequate welfare benefits

Most lone parents are women, who generally earn less than men.

Failure of fathes to pay maintenance

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Reconstituted Families

Account for over 10% of all families. In 86% of step families, at least one child from womans previous relationships. 11% of at least one child from male's previous relationships, In 3% of relationsips, there are children from both sides. Ferrie and Smith (1998) found that stepfamililes are very similar to first families in all major aspects and that the involvement in childcare and chilrearing is a positive one. However according to Allan and Crow (2001) step familes may face particular problems of divided loyalties and issues such as contact with non-resident parent. Mcarthy et all (2003) conclude that there is diversity amongst these families and should speak of them in plural. Reasons for patterns:  

Step families are formed when lone parents form new partnerships. Thus the factors causing in an increase in the number of line parents are also responsible for the cause of stepfamilies.

More Children from womens side as the children will most likely stay with the mother

Step parents are at greater risk of poverty possibl because of looking afer children from either side.

Some of the tensions faced by stepfamilies may be the result of a lack of clear social norms about how individuals should behave in such families.

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Ethnic Differences in Family

Black Families

Black Carribean and Black African peopple have a higher proportion of lone parent households.

In 2002, just over half the families with dependent children headed by a black person compared with one in 11 indian families. This can be linked back to slavery where when they were separated the child would go with their mother. Also argued that male unemployment and poverty have meant that black men  are less able to provide for their family , resulting in in higher rates of desertion or martial breakdown.

Asian Families

Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian households tend to be larger than those of other ethnic groups. Such households may contain three generations but most are  nuclear. Larger households are partly a result of the young age profile British Asians.Larger asian households to some extent reflect the value placed on extended family. Example: Roger Ballard (1982) found that extended family ties provided an important source of support anomg asian migrants dring 1950's190's.

Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus most likely to live in extended family today.

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Extended Family Today

How widespread is the extended family?

Nickie Charles (2005) study of swansea, te classic three generation family all together under one roof is now 'all but extinct'.

Peter Willmott, extended family have not completely disappeared, it continues to exist as a 'dispersed extended family' , where relatives are geographically separated but maintain frequent contact.

Mary Chamberlains study of Carribean families in Britain found that apart from being geographically dispersed, they continue to provide support, she describes temas 'multiple nuclear families'.

Charles found that those who do not keep in touch or offer support may cease to be defined as family where as close friends would be defined as family .

Masons study: 90% had given or recieved financial help, and about half cared for a sick relative.

Overall evidence suggest that the extended family still plays important roles in family like such s financial and emotional support.

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