Family Diversity



Change in divorce rates;

  • The number of divorces doubled between 1961 and 1969 and then again in 1972 following the DLRA
  • 2 out of 5 marriages end in divorce and 7 out of 10 divorces are intiated by women

Reasons for this change;

  • Changes in the law make it easier for people to access divorce e.g divorce law reform act (1969)
  • There is now higher expectation for marriage, and so if someones partner does not meet these expectations they will leave the marriage
  • Secularisation means that marriage is no longer as 'sacred' as it once was because of this people feel less stigma arouond divorce
  • Womens increasing financial independance means that they are able to leave marriages whilst still be able to support themselves
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Change in marriage rates;

  • Less people are getting married
  • Rates of marriage are half of what they were in 1970
  • There is more remarriage so whilst the number of 1st marriages has decreased, the number of 2nd marriages has increased
  • In 2012 half of all marriages were remarriages
  • The age of marriage has increased by 7 year (Men=32, Women=30)

Reasons for the change;

  • Secularisation means that marriage doesnt hold the same meaning as it once did, people no longer feel the need to get married to show they are committed.
  • There is less stigma around sex outside of marriage and therefore having children out of wedlock
  • The rise of feminism means that womens postion has changed, they are much more likely to persue a career over a relationship and marriage
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Change in the rates;

  • It is the fastest growing form of partnerships in the UK
  • 2.9 million heterosexual couples cohabitating couples in britain
  • 69,000 same sex cohabitating couples

Reasons for the change;

  • Chester argues that cohabitation is a pre-curser to marriage in which couples will test to see if they are compatible living in the same environment
  • Bejin argues it is an alternative to marriage or a temporary stage before the marriage
  • A decline in stigma around starting a family outside of marriage means that people no longer feel the need to get married to do so
  • The fact that cohabitating couples have the same rights as married couples means that many dont feel the need or see the point in getting married
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Same Sex Couples

Change in rates;

  • 5-7% of the adult population are in same sex relationships 

Reasons for the change;

  • 1967 Male homosexual acts were dicriminalised
  • 2004 civil partnerships, 2014 Gay marriage 
  • Jeffrey Weeks=increased social acceptance
  • Gillian Dunne= an absence of a gender script in marriage increases stability
  • Secularisation means that religion is not as prevelant in society and so people are more accepting of smae sex couples
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One Person Households

Change in rate;

  • In 2013 it was found that 3 out of 10 households contained only one person
  • 40% of one person households are over 65
  • Duncan and Philips= 1 in 10 adults are Living apart together and half of all people are single

Reasons for the change;

  • An increase in seperation and divorce
  • A decline in 1st marriage*
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Parents and Children

Change in the rate;

  • 47% of children are born out of wedlock
  • Women are having children later (28yrs)
  • Women are having fewer children
  • More women are remaining childless

Reasons for the change;

  • Decline in stigma around women having children on their own or outside of wedlock
  • Women now have more options other than motherhood for example with the the equal employment act women now have more career opportunities
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Lone Parent Families

Changes in the rate;

  • 22% of all families with children are lone parent families
  • 1 in 4 children are in lone parent families
  • 90% of all lone parent families are headed by women

Reasons for the change;

  • Increased divorce rates
  • Decline in stigma around raising children alone
  • Custody courts are more likely to be biased towards women
  • There is an assumption that all women are expressive and so custody is passed to them
  • Most divorces are initiated by women and so they may take the child with them
  • Men are less willing to give up work to look after children
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Single By Choice

Reasons for the increase;

  • Yanina Sheenan- Female Carer Core, the females care is predominant and so form the basis of any family unit
  • Jean Renvoize- Profressional women are able to support their child without a fathers involvement
  • Ellis Cashmore- Working class mothers chose to live on welfare benefits without a partner due to previous experiences with domestic abuse
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Change in the Rate;

  • 10% of all families with dependant children are stepfamilies
  • 4% of stepfamilies have children from both partners
  • Ferri and Smith= stepfamilies can be at a greater risk for poverty
  • Allan and Crow= there can be problems with divided loyalties

Reasons for the change;

  • Increase in divorce rates
  • Reconstituted families are more likely to experience poverty becuase there are more children to support
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  • There is a difference in family life between different ethnic groups in britain
  • 23% of Black Caribbean households are lone parent households
  • 71% of Black Caribbean adults were single (never married) compared to 39% of white adults
  • Bhatti 1999- Asian Families contribute to diversity by maintaining traditional nuclear family roles
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Different Types of Family

  • Extended Family= Peter Willmott came up with the idea of the dispersed extended family in which families although living apart still remain in contact through technology. Mary Chamberlain suggested the idea that people can be a part of Multiple Nulear Families
  • Brannan suggested the Bean pole family which is extened vertically due to an increased life expectancy and smaller familiy size
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Different Types of Family Diversity

Ronan and Robert Rappapor that family has become increasing diverse in the following ways...

1. The Type of family e.g single parent, reconstituted, same sex

2. The Organisation of families e.g joint or segregated conjugal roles

3. The Culture of families e.g immigration means greater cultural diversity due to different norms

4.The Class of families e.g working class families are much more interconnected

5. The Generation of the family e.g younger people more likely to be diverse in nature

6. Regional diversity suggested by Nissel and Bonnergy e.g different types of family in different areas

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Functionalist/New Right view of diversity

  • Parson- Functional fit theory, believes in segregated conjugal roles
  • New Right- Conservative, anti-feminist, opposed to family diversity
  • The only 'normal family' is the nuclear family 
  • Benson- 20% of cohabitating couples split after the first 3 years of their babies life compared to 6% of married couples 
  • Chester- The only change has been to the neoconventional nuclear family, percentage of people figures show the nuclear family structure is still the most prominant
  • Most people who are not currently in a nuclear family have been at some point
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Postmodernism view of diversity

  • Cheal- Families no longer have a fixed family struture or roles, they're chosen
  • Judith Stacey- Women in california rejected housework and sought education and employment before remarrying and forming divorce extended families
  • Anthony Giddens- Transformation of intimacy, argues that sex and intimacy are now the basis of relationships rather than convenience
  • Ulrich Beck- We live in a society where tradition has less influence families are negotiated and so are no longer a safe haven
  • Carol Smart- Traditional norms persist and people still look for stability and committment, we live in a web of connectiveness
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