Marriage and Cohabitation

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Marriage- Reasons

Marriage rates have been decreasing and in 2005, marriage rates dropped an ALL TIME LOW, i.e. there were only 244, 700 marriages. Reasons for this:

  • Wilkinson: argued that women have been going through major radical changes, such as before they used to prioritise marriage, love and family life and now they prioritise the ability to support themsevles, education and career
  • Secularisation; this means that people no longer think that it is morally wrong to not marry and they do not feel guilty for not marrying
  • Beck and Beck Gernsheim: They argue that in the modern world, people place a great importance on individualisation. This means that there is less pressure to get marrried and more lifestyle choice on how to live
  • Thornes and Collard: women in particular seek a lot more from a marriage so they are less likely to get married just for the sake of it. For example, women not only want a husband that is economically stable but someone who can empathise with their feelings. If they cannot find this in a relationship then they do not marry
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However, despite the lack of people that are getting married, there are still many people that still do value marriage and the marriage statistics may NOT BE ACCURATE...

  • Wilson and Smallwood argue that marriage rates do not include British people that choose to marry outside the country
  • Marriage statistics also do not include the large number of gay couples getting married. 
  • In 2005, statistics have shown that 7 out of 10 marriages were successful which shows that the majority of marriages are successful
  • Despite people cohabiting, being single parents, etc, The British Atitudes Survey found that people still see marriage as a desriable life goal and childrne should be done in the context of a marriage
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Effects of decline of marriage

The New Right are concerned with the decline of marriage rates. They argue that there was once a 'golden olden age' and people were marriaed, society was stable, everyone was happy. Now there is a decline in marriage and society is less stable

Feminists: Radical feminisist argue that marriage only benefits men and so single women are generally more happier. Women experience domestic violence (i.e. 4 per 1000) and are more likely to be oppressed. Men are more likely to dominant women so there are inequalities. They favour decline of marriage rates.

Marxist-Feminists argue that decline of marriage means that society is no longer controlled by capitalist men. More equality between men and women in society

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Cohabitation: Reasons

More people are cohabiting in the Uk and according to the ONS, in 2012, there were approx. 5.6 million cohabiting in England. There are a number of reasons why people cohabit:

  • Media presents marriage and cohabiting couples in the same way which means that society is socially accpetable for cohabiting couples
  • Different attitudes to sex: people are less likely to think that sex should be saved for marriage, escpecially teenagers so they are morel likely to cohabit
  • Marriage is expensive: marriage can cost well over £10,000 so couples can choose to cohabit to save up for marriage or not marry at all
  • Less pressure: there is generally less pressure from both family members and society in general to marry. People are less likely to do what their grandparents once did and they follow their own beliefs so do not see cohabitation as morally wrong
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Effects of cohabitaion

New Right claim that cohabitiation is LESS STABLE THAN MARRIAGE. They argue that parents are more likely to split up and results in single-parenting- has a much more negative impact on boys- they underachieve, become involved in street crime, etc

However, Chandler refutes this and argues that cohabitation is seen as a relatively stable, long-term alternative to marriage.
Also, underachievemnt is NOT as a result of cohabitation but as a result to SOCIAL CLASS. For example, working class underachieve because they are materially deprived and lack cultural capital

Postmodernists: they argue that there is NO RIGHT OR WRONG way of organising family life. If people want to cohabit then they can, as long as it suits their own personal needs and their own lifestyle choice then it is acceptable

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